It's tough to think about the end of your life and since it's an uncomfortable topic, most people avoid talking about it. A majority of Americans don't have a will or estate plan in place and haven't legally planned for the inevitable. However, if you have a spouse, children or grandchildren, creating an estate plan with a will is an important way to care for their future needs.
One of the components in creating a will is assigning an executor. When you die, the executor administers your will according to your wishes and closes out your estate in accordance with the law.
Job of executor
The duties of an executor are considerable, so you'll want to choose the person, or third party wisely. Their duties include:
- Following state laws regarding the estate administration.
- Conducting an inventory of the assets.
- Appraising and securing the assets of the deceased.
- Paying any debts left by the deceased.
- Distributing the assets according to the directions outlined in the will.
- Satisfying tax burdens.
- Properly closing out the estate.
In addition to the above, it's important that the executor communicates clearly and frequently with the beneficiaries throughout the process of settling the estate. Their actions need to be transparent and include a money trail.
Who to choose
Many people tend to choose a trusted family member, one who is organized, trustworthy, available and responsible. If a family member isn't an option, some will choose a friend with those same qualities. Another option is to choose a third party, such as a bank or trust company, but be sure to research - and plan for - any associated fees.
The job of an executor can be overwhelming, so be sure that the person you ask is willing to seek professional help. They will likely need to consult an attorney and a financial advisor throughout the process.
Once you have chosen the executor for your will, be sure that the person is in agreement and willing to take on the task. Communicate your wishes, notify them about the location of the paperwork and discuss other relevant information. It's also a good idea to seek legal advice regarding the process and ensure you have created the necessary documents.