One of the most important aspects of estate planning is drafting your will—and choosing the executor of your will. The executor holds an essential role in ensuring that your assets are correctly distributed upon your passing. The person you select for this role will also need to handle other necessary tasks to close out your estate.
Estate Lawyers in California
If you are preparing to draft your will and need legal assistance, the estate planning attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver can help. Our attorneys have many years of experience successfully handling all different aspects of estate planning. Contact our office today to learn more about what we can do to help you prepare your will and other estate planning documents.
What Are the Duties Required of the Executor of a Will?
The executor of a will is responsible for ensuring that the decedent’s last wishes are properly carried out regarding the disposition of their possessions and property. There are many things that the executor of a will must handle.
First, the executor must locate the decedent’s assets and keep them safe or properly manage them until the executor can distribute them to the beneficiaries. The executor is also responsible for locating and contacting the beneficiaries of the will. The beneficiaries are the people the decedent has named in the will as the recipient of their assets.
Another responsibility the executor has is filing the will in the correct probate court. In some cases, the will may not be required to pass through probate, but typically, it must still be filed with the court.
The executor of a will also has the responsibility to pay off legitimate debts and creditors. It is their job to notify all known creditors of the death of the individual and find out how the creditors want to proceed. It is generally a good idea for the executor to set up an independent bank account to manage the deceased individual’s assets in order to keep the estate funds separate from their own.
Additionally, the executor is responsible for wrapping up other matters on behalf of the decedent. These include canceling credit cards, advising the bank of the decedent’s death, contacting the Social Security Administration, if applicable.
Another responsibility that the executor has is to pay the decedent’s final income taxes for the last year that they were alive. Finally, the executor must see through the distribution of property and assets to the designated beneficiaries.
What Should I Consider When Choosing an Executor for My Will?
Since the executor of a will has so many tasks and responsibilities to handle, it is crucial for anyone drafting a will to make sure that they choose the right person for the job. It is not a position to be taken lightly. For this reason, as you prepare to draft your will, you should consider choosing an executor who is willing and able to perform these duties and who is also familiar with you and your circumstances. Many people choose an immediate family member or a close friend to fulfill this role.
If you do not have an immediate family member or a close friend that you can think of who would be willing to take on this role, there are other options to consider. If you have grandchildren, one of your grandchildren may be old enough and responsible enough to take on this role. Additionally, if your close friends cannot be the executor of your will, one of their children might be able to handle the role and carry out the tasks of the executor.
Although this role can have its demands, many people are happy to help out if they are asked. It is a good idea to be open-minded and willing to reach out to individuals that you know and trust, even if they are not within your immediate family.
Other Options for the Executor of Your Will
If you do not have a friend or family member who is able to take on the job of the executor of your will, there are some other options. You can hire a third party to serve in this role. Some third-party options for an executor include an experienced estate planning attorney, a trust company, or a bank.
Compensation for the Executor of a Will
Since it takes a lot of work, time, and effort to serve as the executor of a will, common practice is to pay the executor. Even if you choose a close friend or family member to handle this role, you should still ensure that they are paid a fair amount. You can make arrangements for the executor payment to come from your estate.
Contact Your Local Estate Planning Attorney Today
At Galanti & Copenhaver, Inc. we are committed to delivering personalized legal guidance to you that is individually tailored to your unique circumstances. If you are ready to get started on creating an estate plan, contact us today at 707-538-4711 or fill out our online contact form.