What is a will executor?

Choosing the executor for your will is an important decision for your end of life arrangements. Once you understand the executor of will duties you will be better equipped to select the executor of your last will and testament.

Once you understand what an executor does for your final life arrangements you may go about selecting one. Find out who can be an executor of a will as well as who cannot perform that function. You may want to make a list of qualities or criteria that best suit the sort of person you want to fill this role and then start to compile a list of people whom you may know or seek to hire a professional for the job.

What does an executor of a will do?

Being the executor of estate for someone is an enormous responsibility. There are many duties required of someone who agrees to take on this role. Among the many executor of will duties that are expected of someone in this position are the following:

  • Uncovering assets – The executor must locate all the assets of the decedent and then decide which are to be sold and which are to be kept. They must also make sure to keep all these assets safe until they can be properly allocated to those named in the will.
  • Deciding upon probate – Things like the state in which the will is executed as well as the value of the assets contained in the will may affect whether or not the will needs probate. This is decided upon in large part by the executor.
  • Locating beneficiaries – The executor of estate is responsible for tracking down those named in the will and making certain they receive what is intended for them.
  • Filing the will – Executors ensure that wills are filed in the proper probate courts.
  • Tending to affairs – The decedent may have several items that need attention. These can include things such as notifying credit card companies of the death of the account holder so the cards can be closed, notifying the Social Security Administration to stop or transfer Social Security benefits, etc.
  • Bank accounts for the estate – Executing the will may require bank accounts to disburse funds and pay for expenses.
  • Paying debts – Typically, before any beneficiaries can receive their inheritance from an estate, the estate’s creditors must be satisfied.
  • Paying income tax – An estate’s executor will generally be responsible for making sure the decedent’s final income taxes are paid up.
  • Distribution of property – Once the other administrative duties are taken care of, the executor performs the function of making sure all the property is properly distributed.

Who can be an executor of a will?

When it comes to choosing the executor of estate for carrying out the wishes set forth in your last will and testament, you generally have a free hand with which to make your selection. Because many wills are generally straightforward and do not require any special financial knowledge many executors of wills are often spouses who will inherit the estate, children, or siblings of the decedents. However, when wills are more complicated, such as those with significant tax liabilities or those with complicated property issues, or estates involved in disputes, it may be advantageous to retain the services of professionals such as lawyers or accountants. Individuals who may be excluded from serving as executors of wills may include any of the following:

  • Children younger than the age of 18 years
  • Individuals who are convicted of felonies
  • Out-of-state executors may not be permitted in some states
    • Some states may require out-of-state executors to also be beneficiaries
  • Some states may not allow out-of-state executors unless they possess a bond to insure against any impropriety

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It is best to check your state’s laws with regards to executors of estates especially those who may be out-of-state.

How to Choose an Executor of Estate

When selecting someone for the role of executor of a will, there are certain qualities you may want to look for in an individual as well as some you will surely wish to avoid. For starters, you will want to focus your search for those individuals who demonstrate a high degree of responsibility. While the person you ultimately choose to be your executor of will does not need to be a professional such as a lawyer or accountant, you do want them to be able to communicate effectively with beneficiaries as well as show the ability to make a difficult decision when the occasion calls for it. Executors traditionally receive a commission for performing their roles, so you should expect the person you choose to treat their role similar to that of a job.

Executing a will should also be done by a person who is in good financial standing. Those with poor financial standing, such as those with liens against them, who have declared bankruptcy or who have bad credit ratings may have great difficulty getting bonded for the role. Bonding is a type of insurance extended to the person in the role of executor of a will which courts may require so that there is protection against those who might steal the assets of the will. You should also avoid any type of drama when seeking an executor. Families often have their own conflicts and dramas such as siblings who do not get along for any number of reasons. Making one of them an executor of your will may cause undue drama that can prove taxing for everyone involved.

Your executor of estate need not be someone who lives close by, so do not be dissuaded from choosing an individual you prefer because of their geographic location. An executor may hire a service to help carry out your wishes or perform tasks such as liquidating furniture in your home. Most importantly, you will want to find someone who is emotionally grounded and patient to carry out your last will and testament. An executor of estate may be required to demonstrate tough love to the beneficiaries named in your will and this will take someone with solid grounding to withstand the pushback and emotion from grieving relatives and loved ones. Furthermore, the job of guiding a will through probate requires someone who can pay attention to detail and display great amounts of patience to deal with the court system.

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