When preparing an estate plan, one task for the individuals involved is to decide the executor of their estate. This is not a responsibility that should be given to anyone without notice and should be given to a trusted family member or friend who the individuals trust.
An executor is tasked with protecting and preserving assets after someone passes until all financial requirements are met. This includes any debts and taxes that might need to be paid. The executor is also responsible for distributing assets to those as outlined in a will or trust.
How to Pick an Estate Executor
There are several factors individuals should consider before choosing an estate executor.
- The moral character of the individual: is the nominated person responsible and trustworthy to handle this monumental task? The nominated individual does not need to have a financial background or be an attorney to be an executor; however, they have to be accountable for handling matters quickly, effectively communicating with others, and making hard decisions if necessary.
- Naming more than one executor: it is possible for individuals to name more than one executor for their estate. Key concepts for individuals to keep in mind, though, is if the multiple executors get along or will drama ensue between them. If there will be complications in naming more than one executor, it’s best to stick with one person who can handle the task. Another consideration for individuals is to name a second executor who is younger than their first executor. This can give peace of mind for individuals knowing that if the worst were to happen with their first executor that their wishes will be upheld by the second executor.
- Don’t name someone who is not qualified: minors can not be named executors so ensure that the nominated executor is at least 18 years old. Additionally, felons are usually not allowed to be executors. Some states do not allow out-of-state executors, for example, Washington. However, in Nevada, an out-of-state executor can be named. Each state is different so it’s best for individuals to work with an experienced estate planning attorney before setting in stone who will be the executor of their estate.
Responsibilities of an Estate Executor
After someone is identified as the estate executor, once the individual or individuals of the estate pass, the executor has several tasks they have to undertake.
- Obtaining a copy of the will or trust and executing the instructions: this is the most important job of the executor. If those who passed only had a will, then there is the possibility of probate getting involved in the transfer of assets. If assets are secured in a trust, then probate will not be necessary. The executor is to ensure that the assets are correctly distributed to beneficiaries and work with the court if unassigned assets need to be distributed.
- Notification of government agencies, billing companies, and more: it is crucial for agencies including billing departments, the Social Security Administration, and more to be notified of someone’s passing. This way, arrangements can be made for unpaid bills and funds can be discontinued by the Social Security Administration. The executor is also taxed to ensure any due taxes are also paid.
- Distributing assets and clearing of other property: assets that are already pre-assigned will need to be given to the individuals they were bequeathed to. If there are other assets that don’t need to go through probate, though, then the executor is usually the one responsible for either giving those items away, donating them, or disposing of them.
Questions About Assigning an Executor?
If you have an estate plan and have questions about your current executor in place or are ready to begin an estate plan including naming an executor, then contact Jerimy Kirschner & Associates, PLLC. Our experienced legal team can create or modify an estate plan that is best for you and your family.
Additionally, if you are an executor and have questions about your responsibilities, the team at Jerimy Kirschner & Associates, PLLC is here for you. Reach out to us today through our online form or call (206) 203-8802.