Naming an Executor is Important

Naming an Executor is Important

The News Journal
by Nancy F. Blumberg, CPA, CFP
and John H. Sterling, CPA

Simon Master & Sidlow, P.A.

What is an executor of a will?It’s the person who handles the deceased’s affairs during the probate process.Without a will, the court will appoint someone to perform this function.

Therefore, it is important while a person is making out a will to name an executor and get his or her agreement to perform this function.It is also important for the person to discuss the responsibilities of the executor so the person knows what is expected.

Many people don’t realize the work that is involved.The executor’s job usually involves lots of time and effort and frequently exposes him or her to personal liability.

The executor locates the will, offers it for probate in the proper court, collects the assets so they can be distributed according to the terms of the will, safeguards the assets and makes sure they are appraised, files the necessary federal and state tax returns, pays any related taxes, cancels credit cards and various accounts, pays the debts of the estate and distributes the assets of the state.

A few areas of special concern for the executor should include: adequate insurance for loss and destruction of assets, timely filing of the tax returns, payment of appropriate claims and selection of a valuation process for the best tax savings.

It is easier if the executor lives in the same jurisdiction where the will is being probated.In this way, the executor can follow the process closely.While individual executors will sometimes waive the executor’s fee, especially if they are also beneficiaries,they should be compensated for these efforts.

At least one second choice as executor should be listed in the will in case the first choice dies or changes his or her mind.It is better not to name co-executors, which can cause disagreements and delay the entire estate administration process.

Some people name a bank or trust company as the executor.This may help to prevent family rifts.These institutions can offer efficient administration and technical expertise, yet they tend to be impersonal in their approach.The bank’s fee structure may make its use as executor cost prohibitive.

It may be wise to name an individual as the executor with the financial institution as successor.