As we’ve noted in previous blogs, decisions related to estate planning are highly personal and should only be made after taking numerous factors into consideration. When considering your estate plan, making the decision of who to appoint as the executor of your estate is one of the most important decisions you need to make.
In a nutshell, an executor is responsible for ensuring that, per an individual’s last will and testament, his or her “last wishes are granted with regard to the disposition of… property and possessions.” In addition to ensuring that the directives outlined in a person’s will are followed and assets and possessions distributed accordingly, an executor must also settle matters related to any outstanding taxes and debts.
Legally, an executor must fulfill his or her role “with the utmost honest and diligence” or by acting in a fiduciary duty. While many consider being named an executor a great honor, the responsibilities that come with the job can be challenging, tedious and time consuming. For these reasons, it’s important that the testator or testatrix is certain of his or her choice when naming an executor and that the named executor understands the responsibilities that are inherent to the role.
The following are included among an executor’s duties:
- Discovering, managing and dispersing assets
- Paying outstanding debts and taxes
- Distributing property as per a will’s directives
- Wrapping up all financial matters related to the decedent and estate
- Sorting out life insurance matters
- Collecting and distributing personal effects as per a will
- File income and estate taxes for decedent
Due to the nature of the executor’s role, an individual who is trying to decide who to name as the executor of an estate should seek out someone with the following qualities and personal attributes.
- Able to follow through
- Good with finances
- Knowledge of and experience with estate planning
Source: FindLaw.com, “Checklist: The Executor’s Role,” Jan. 21, 2016
FindLaw.com, “What Does an Executor Do?,” Jan. 21, 2016
Additional resources provided by the author
For more information, please contact estate planning attorney Regina Kiperman:
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New York, NY 10038
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