When you sit down with an estate planning lawyer to put together your estate plan, one of the decisions you will have to make is to decide who you want to be named as the executor of your estate. This is a very critical role. This is the person who ensures that the wishes of the decedent are carried out and that the estate is settled.
The executor is in charge of distributing all of the estate’s assets and property, all of the decedent’s possessions. The executor is also responsible for making sure all of the estate’s debts and tax liabilities are paid from the proceeds of the estate and then distributing the remaining assets to the chosen beneficiaries. The duties of the executor can include:
- Taking an inventory of all of the assets of the decedent and making sure they are protected until the estate is settled.
- Contacting all of the beneficiaries named in the will, as well as any beneficiaries named in trusts the decedent may have established.
- Filing the will with the probate court.
- Once the court has accepted the will and approved the executor, they need to open a bank account in the estate’s name. It is from this account that the debts and any recurring payments the decedent has will be paid until the estate is settled.
- Notify the decedent’s banks and other financial institutions he or she had accounts at of their death. The executor is also required to cancel any credit cards the decedent had.
What Happens if No Executor Is Named in the Will?
A skilled estate planning attorney will ensure that the client chooses an executor because of the issues that can arise when this has not been done. However, if the person did not have a lawyer assist them in the will, they may have not understood the importance of choosing one.
There may also be situations where an executor was named, however, circumstances may have changed, and either the executor is unavailable, refuses the appointment, or they have died and no replacement was named.
Regardless of the reason, if there is no valid executor named in the will, then someone may come forward to request the court appoint them as executors. This is usually a family member or friend. If no one comes forward, then the court will need to choose someone to fulfill those duties. Unfortunately, since this person will likely be a stranger who did not know the decedent, they will have no idea what their last wishes truly were.
Choosing an Executor
As you can see, it is much better to choose an executor while you are still alive rather than having the courts choose after you have passed. Some of the factors to keep in mind when deciding who is the best person for the job are:
- Make sure the person you choose is trustworthy. After all, they will be in charge of handling all of the finances you worked for all your life.
- Make sure the person you choose is impartial. Although some people pick family members as their executors, if you anticipate there may be some conflicts over your estate, you want someone who will not be tempted to choose sides in any conflicts but will instead make sure your wishes are carried out.
- Make sure the person you choose has a good understanding of finances, as well as understand what the duties are that they will be required to carry out.
To ensure that you have a solid estate plan in place that will protect your family, call a dedicated Luzerne County, PA estate administration lawyer from Hoegen & Associates, P.C. to schedule a free and confidential consultation.