Many estate planning decisions were made years ago, filed away, and forgotten. But it is important to periodically review the ability of the person who you selected to wrap up your financial affairs after you die.
Executors play an important role in the wills, estate planning and probate process. Their duties include locating all assets, paying off debts and taxes, handling funeral expenses, publishing death notices, obtaining financial information and assuring that your assets are allocated according to your will.
Typically, family members and friends are appointed. However, skills and talents may be more important their relationships when appointing an executor.
An executor’s time is a significant consideration. Executors have jobs and responsibilities of their own. But tedious duties may include obtaining information from banks, mortgage servicers, insurance companies, and any firm that played a role with the deceased person’s holdings.
Executors may even have to search for passcodes to digital accounts and sort through personal possessions for distribution to family members. Travel may be involved.
Executors must know how to look for assets, document communications with lawyers and bankers and other individuals and stay organized. A person who has difficulties with their own financial affairs or do not have an attention to detail are unfit for this role.
Whether one or more executors are selected, they should have the right disposition. Executors must conduct their business openly to create trust. The executor must be able to deal with the specific family dynamics and communicate clearly and tactfully.
Executors must follow Georgia’s laws while exercising their responsibilities. They are personally liable for the administration of the estate.
The IRS may act against an executor who misrepresents the value of the estate’s assets. Beneficiaries may also seek reimbursement and fines from an executor for mishandling the estate.
Executors need to consider travel costs. Also, the time spent on the estate has its own cost. While executors are entitled to a certain percentage of the estate as a fee, it may not make up for lost time. Payment of these fees may cause friction with family members and other beneficiaries.
These steps can help executors administer your estate:
- Make a list of all numbers and locations for credit cards, bank accounts, passwords, retirement and investment accounts, insurance policies, and tax documents.
- Have a will or trust that specifies your wishes.
- Make a separate list for the distribution of personal property like jewelry and heirlooms.
- Explain your executor selection to other family members.
- Set forth the executor’s fee and explain it to your beneficiaries.
Attorneys can help develop an estate plan. They can also assist executors with meeting their responsibilities.