Naming an executor of a will is a crucial decision. This person is assigned to carry out the wishes of a will after a death. This person may be tasked with paying outstanding debts, distributing assets and property to heirs, and more. Choosing your will's executor is an important decision. Do I need an executor for my will? Find out here.
Making end-of-life decisions is a difficult obstacle to approach, but one that is necessary to give you peace of mind and also ease the burden on your family that you leave behind. Wills.com makes it easy for you to create a will online and assign proper roles for your estate. Choosing an executor can be stressful, particularly if there are complicated factors to consider, or you anticipate conflict among beneficiaries.
What is an Executor?
An executor, or personal representative, is the individual or entity responsible for managing your estate following your death. An executor is a fiduciary. This means that he or she has a legal duty to act in the best interests of the estate. The person named as an executor in a will can decline the responsibility that being an executor entails. In addition, someone who originally accepted the role as executor can resign at any time. As a result, it is generally recommended that you name alternative executors, otherwise a court will appoint a replacement executor if your original choice bows out for some reason.
An executor can either be named in your last will or appointed by a court if you die without a will.
How To Choose An Executor
Much like choosing a legal guardian for your child(ren), selecting an executor and even a co-executor is a decision that you should take seriously and probably discuss with the one you have in mind. Call them or get together to discuss this task. Some of the executor’s responsibilities include:
Filing a copy of the will with the probate court
Setting up a bank account to collect funds and pay liabilities
Filing an inventory of the estate’s assets with the probate court
Paying estate debts and taxes
Do I Need An Executor For My Will?
When a person dies, the executor (as outlined), is the individual responsible for administering and distributing the person's estate according to the terms outlined in the will. If you do not appoint one, or a person dies before appointing an executor, probate court becomes the responsible party for the wills direction. Do I need an executor for my will? It's always in your best interest to assign someone.
This does not mean that your executor needs to be a professional executor like an attorney or dedicated estate settling service provider, these are good options but far more costly than choosing a reliable individual to serve as executor. some things to consider
Avoid those that may be disqualified, for example, convicted felons, those under the age of 18 (21 in some states), and those that reside outside of the U.S.
Consider someone younger and healthy
Choose someone that lives nearby, location plays a big role when having to appear in probate court or visit a local bank branch, your home, although technology has made it easier these days.
Consider a Professional Wills Executor
There are some situations where appointing a family member is not ideal. First, there may be no family members or friends that are capable of serving and/or are disqualified under state law. Knowing how to choose an executor is critical, but can often be an overwhelming process, particularly when multiple family members or loved ones wish to take on this position. In those cases, a professional may be a suitable option.
Second, the estate may involve complex assets and liabilities that are better understood by some that understand them. Take cryptocurrencies for example. A new study performed by Nasdaq.com shows that about 17% of the adult population (46 million Americans) own these modern assets. Selecting an executor that understands how to transfer them is important.
Third, there is value in the fact that a professional is a neutral party and is not tied emotionally to you or your family. They ensure everything moves smoothly.
Do I need an executor for my will? The short answer is yes. Serving as an executor can also pose a lot of work for many months and you want to make sure that your chosen executor is up to the job.
Do Executors Need To Hire A Lawyer?
Many wills are fairly routine and simple, and require no specialized knowledge or formal training. In many cases, a will can be carried out as outlined without issue. Even if a will goes through probate court, the required paperwork typically does not require any legal knowledge or formal law degree to understand.
However, in certain circumstances where disputes of the will are apparent or complex such as:
Complex property issues
Significant tax liability
Accumulation of additional assets
then an executor should seriously consider getting professional help in the form of a lawyer. An executor may use a lawyer as a resource to ask legal questions, or the executor may turn the entire probate process over to the lawyer.