One of the first steps when it comes to estate planning is to create a will. While many people are focused on who to name as beneficiaries and what each beneficiary should receive from the estate, another important consideration is who to name as the executor of the will.
California Estate Planning Attorneys
The estate planning attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver have many years of experience drafting wills for their clients and handling other estate planning matters. Our office can help you prepare your will in accordance with your wishes and needs. We can also help you expand your estate planning to include trusts, advance medical directives, power of attorney documents, or anything else that may be useful for your estate planning goals.
What is an Executor of a Will?
Before you decide who to name as the executor of your will, it is essential to understand what this role entails. The executor of a will is the person responsible for administering your estate and ensuring that the terms of the will are followed. Typically, the person creating a will chooses an executor of their will and identifies who they have chosen in the will documents.
Duties of the Executor of a Will
An executor of a will has certain duties that he or she must fulfill. First, the executor of the will must initiate the probate process by filing the proper paperwork with the court. In many cases, the judge will need to determine whether or not the will is valid.
Assuming the will is found to be valid, the executor will then take a detailed inventory of everything included in the will and the estate. Another duty that the executor of a will has is to ensure that all of the proper parties are notified of the probate process of the will. This typically includes sending a notice to any potential heirs as well as any named beneficiaries. In some cases, involving lingering debts, creditors must also be notified.
The executor of a will must also complete some other tasks, such as terminating credit cards and notifying Social Security, the post office, and any banks at which the deceased individual had accounts at of that person’s death. The will executor is also required to handle the payment of expenses from the estate, such as any outstanding bills, funeral costs, and any valid claims from creditors.
Additionally, they must also file the deceased individual’s final tax return. Finally, when the probate case has concluded, they are responsible for ensuring the distribution of estate assets to the proper beneficiaries.
How to Decide Who to Name as the Executor of Your Will
As you can see, the executor of a will has many important duties to carry out. For this reason, you will want to choose someone whom you trust to handle these responsibilities.
In some cases, close family members may seem like a good choice for this role. However, that may not necessarily be an option for everyone. Also, while choosing a family member may seem like a simple solution, it is not always the best option.
It is important to choose an executor for your will who is responsible, dependable, honest, well-organized, good with deadlines, and who will not have trouble dealing with an abundance of paperwork. Another thing to keep in mind as you choose an executor for your will is that the person whom you choose should ideally be someone in good health and younger than you, to ensure that they will be able to handle the necessary responsibilities of this role after you pass.
Choosing a Third-Party Executor of Your Will
If you do not wish to name a family member or close friend to serve as the executor of your will, you do have some other options. For example, you can choose to name a bank, a professional with experience handling estates, or a trust company.
You should keep in mind that there will be fees associated with hiring a third-party to take on this role. These fees will be charged to the estate. However, even if you choose a family member or friend to handle this responsibility, they are also entitled to a reasonable fee, though they may not accept it (especially if they are a beneficiary).
After You Choose an Executor of Your Will
Once you have decided who to name as the executor of your will, you should first confirm that they are willing to accept this role. After they have agreed to be the executor, it can also be helpful for you to give them an overview of the details of the will, and also to let them know where the will and other important documents can be found.