When it comes to completing a Will, choosing an executor, and one or two alternate executors, is one of the most important decisions to make. Not only is the executor in charge of gathering all probate assets, making reports to the probate court, paying the valid debts of the estate, and overseeing distribution of assets, but it can take several months (or sometimes even years) for an estate to completely settle.
The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association has provided some guidance on how to choose the right person for the job.
What are the executor’s duties?
An executor does some if not all the following:
- Notifies banks and creditors of death, collects assets, evaluates creditor claims, and pays off outstanding debts
- Tracks the flow of assets into and out of the estate and provides reports to the probate court
- Calmly and fairly handle creditors and potential heirs while administering the estate and distributing assets
Depending on how complicated an estate is, this can be a job that requires a lot of attention.
Ask these questions
Before nominating an executor and alternate executors, there are some important questions to ask. Does the person have the inclination and the time to handle the necessary paperwork? Are they dealing with their own financial problems? Are they able to juggle several tasks and stay organized?
While executors do not need legal or financial experience, both can be beneficial when it comes to the details of estate administration.
Finally, it is wise to discuss the job with the chosen person. The executor should know what their job is, where your Will can be located, what your assets are generally, and who to contact to assist with estate administration.