You should consider the postmortem process when you are planning your estate. It is true that estate planning involves executing legally binding documents that leave behind instructions. But at the same time, someone must follow these instructions to make your wishes become a reality.
When you are using a last will to arrange for the transfer of your property this person is the executor.
What Does the Executor Do?
The executor has a range of estate administration duties that must be performed during the postmortem process. First of all, the property that comprises the estate must be secured. Things can sometimes go missing that are accounted for in the will, and this is something that should be prevented.
The will must be admitted to the probate court. Probate is a legal proceeding. The estate administration duties that are undertaken by the executor will be supervised by the probate court.
The extent of the executor’s duties will in large part depend upon the exact nature of the estate in question. Final debts must be paid before the assets that remain can be distributed among the heirs. Most people are going to pass away with some outstanding debts.
These debts would include tax responsibilities.
To make it possible to distribute the value of the assets that comprise the estate in accordance with the wishes of the decedent, property liquidation may be necessary. This can be complicated under some circumstances depending on the extent of the property.
The form of the property is going to be a factor when you consider the time frame and complexity. For example, real property is not necessarily going to sell at a fair price overnight. Liquidating a business could be challenging as well.
Your executor is going to have to handle all of these business oriented tasks. As a result, you should certainly nominate an executor who has a good bit of business acumen.
It is also important to choose someone who has the time that it will take to properly administer the estate.
Another thing to consider when you are deciding on an executor would be potential conflicts of interest. The executor should act completely objectively without any personal interests in decisions that he or she makes on behalf of the estate.
Geography is another factor. In many cases these estate administration tasks will be ongoing over an extended period of time as we have touched upon. It may not be possible for someone to swoop in from Hawaii for a couple of weeks to tie together all of the loose ends.
This is a brief look at the role of the estate executor. If you have further questions, feel free to contact our firm to schedule a free consultation.