The executor’s (think personal representative) role is critical to the administration of your estate and the achievement of your estate planning objectives. So your first instinct may be to name a trusted family member as your personal representative. But that might not be the best choice.
Duties of your executor
Your personal representative will have a variety of important duties, including:
- Arranging for probate of your will (if necessary) and obtaining court approval to administer your estate,
- Taking inventory of — and collecting, recovering or maintaining — your assets, including life insurance proceeds and retirement plan benefits,
- Obtaining valuations of your assets if necessary,
- Preparing a schedule of assets and liabilities,
- Arranging for the safekeeping of personal property,
- Contacting your beneficiaries to advise them of their entitlements under your will,
- Paying any debts incurred by you or your estate and handling creditors’ claims,
- Defending your will in the event of litigation,
- Filing tax returns on behalf of your estate, and
- Distributing your assets among your beneficiaries according to the terms of your will.
Typically, family members lack the skills and time to handle all of these tasks on their own. They’re entitled, of course, to hire accountants, attorneys, financial planners and other advisors — at the estate’s expense — for assistance. But even with professional help, serving as your personal representative is a big job that requires a substantial time commitment during an already stressful period. Plus, if your executor is also a beneficiary of your will, other beneficiaries may view that as a conflict of interest.
Consider naming a corporate fiduciary to be the personal representative such as a bank’s Personal Trust/Wealth Management Department. A corporate fiduciary is a disinterested third party with the duty of acting in the best interest of each beneficiary. A corporate fiduciary has the staff with the necessary skills, experience, and expertise to carry out the important duties of the personal representative.
If you still haven’t decided who you should appoint as your estate’s executor, discuss the issues with us. We’d be pleased discuss your options so you can make the right decision based on your circumstances. Contact Doug below.
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