Factors to Consider Before Agreeing to Be an Executor
The executor of an estate is responsible for filing the will in the probate court, notifying beneficiaries, locating and managing assets, and consulting an estate planning attorney in The Woodlands. Being named as the executor of an estate is often seen as an honor because executors must be both trustworthy and honest. Yet, many people agree to the job before they truly understand what it involves. Consider talking to an estate planning attorney before making your decision. If you were named in a will as the executor of an estate without your knowledge, then you should know that you do have the right to decline the role.
Consult an attorney to ensure that you meet the legal requirements to serve as an executor. Each state has its own laws, but in general, adults who do not have a felony conviction on their records are eligible to serve. Additional restrictions may also apply to out-of-state executors who wish to probate a will in Texas.
Serving as an executor can take considerable time and energy, depending on how complex the estate matters are. Executors must be detail-oriented, honest, patient, and well-organized. It’s helpful if executors generally work well with other people and have a basic knowledge of finances. Before you agree to be an executor, consider whether you’re willing and able to carry out the following tasks:
- File the will
- Notify beneficiaries
- Manage assets during probate
- Terminate outstanding contracts
- Notify government agencies and banks of the death
- Establish an estate bank account
- Pay continuing expenses and taxes
- Notify creditors and pay debts
- Distribute the property
- Close the estate
Even if you’re confident that you can carry out the many responsibilities of being an executor, there may be personal issues that get in the way. For example, you might live far away from the probate court or perhaps far from the primary asset which needs care and oversight. Perhaps you might not have enough time to spare to do the job properly. In cases of co-executors, you might have difficulties working with a co-executor. Or you might have reservations about dealing with particular beneficiaries who might disagree with the will or with your handling of estate matters. On the other hand, if you are the sole beneficiary and you’ve also been named as the executor, then serving in this capacity should be fairly straightforward—especially with the assistance of an estate planning attorney.
Selecting Your Executor
The executor of a will has many responsibilities. When it’s time to choose your executor , consider speaking with a probate lawyer in The Woodlands for guidance. Your probate lawyer may recommend choosing a professional executor if the estate is large, or if you’re concerned that your loved ones may not be suitable for this role. If you would prefer to select a known executor of your will, please watch this video for some helpful tips.
This probate professional recommends making a list of people whom you trust to carry out your final wishes and manage your legacy. Then, narrow down your choices by considering which individuals are best able to manage official paperwork and pay attention to details. Before designating your executor, ask that individual if he or she is willing to carry out these important duties.
Choosing an Executor for Your Will
When you visit a will attorney near Houston, you’ll need to make many more decisions than just figuring out how to divide your property after your death. You’ll also need to designate an executor of your will. The executor of a will has many important responsibilities, including gathering assets, assessing debts and other claims, paying taxes, and distributing the estate. It is largely a thankless job that requires careful attention to detail, persistence, and patience, so be sure to select an executor who is up to the task.
The Available Choices
Make a list of your available choices. Many people choose a close family member to be the executor of their will. Other possibilities include more distant relatives, friends, or professional executors. It is possible to choose more than one executor. These may be co-executors, who will share the responsibilities of the position. It’s a smart idea to choose one or more back-up executors in case the original executor is incapable of or chooses not to carry out these responsibilities.
The Individual’s Credentials
As you narrow down your list of possible executors, consider the credentials of each. It is helpful, though not required, for an executor of a will to have a legal background or a background in accounting. Failing this, it’s wise to choose someone who has earned a college degree, although this is not a mandatory requirement.
The Individual’s Age and Health
It’s necessary for your executor or back-up executor to outlive you. Consider the age and overall health of the individual you’re thinking of choosing. Of course, a generally healthy individual may later experience drastic medical setbacks that render him or her incapable of fulfilling the tasks of the role. When major life changes occur, you can revisit your executor designation and change it if need be. Changing your executor may also be necessary in the case of divorce or estrangement.
The Individual’s Personal Preferences
An executor of a will may face a long, tedious process. Many people simply don’t want the responsibility. When you’ve narrowed down your list to a few possibilities, approach these individuals and ask if they would be willing to be your executor, co-executor, or back-up executor.
What Is the Role of an Executor In Probate?
To ensure that your family is adequately protected after your passing, it’s important that you speak with a probate law attorney. As you and your lawyer discuss your will , you will need to decide who to name as your executor; that individual whom you trust to carry out the terms of your will. The Woodlands probate law attorney, Andrew J. Bolton, will gladly discuss the role of executors in further detail.
In short, after a person dies, an executor must organize and wrap up the deceased’s affairs. This involves settling debts, preserving property, distributing inheritance, and taking care of various legal matters. An executor need not necessarily have to be a financial or legal expert, but can be a trusted family member. If you have a will, the executor’s primary job will be to follow the directions laid out in your will. If an individual does not name an executor before passing away, the court will appoint one.
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