A Will executor refers to a person that has been legally designated to oversee the estate of a person who has died. There are several names for a will executor including estate administrator, probate personal representative, estate executor, probate administrator and estate agent.
Regardless of the title, a will executor must be appointed through the decedent's last will and testament or by a probate judge. Nearly every estate must pass through probate prior to distribution of assets
The only way to avoid probate is to establish an irrevocable living trust or life insurance trust. Even when decedents execute trusts, an estate executor must be appointed to ensure assets are properly distributed to designated beneficiaries.
When designating a will executor, it is important to discuss your decision with the person first. This is an important role and comes with numerous responsibilities. The appointed executor should be adept with finances and be able to make difficult decisions under stress. Will executors must be at least 18 years of age and never convicted of a felony offense.
There are many things to consider when appointing an estate administrator. Much depends on family dynamics. Death tends to bring out the best and worst in people. Family disputes can erupt over who should receive a porcelain teapot or heirloom gravy pitcher. While this may sound silly, it is not uncommon for families to embark in all-out war over inheritance property.
Experts recommend designating two estate administrators. If the primary Administrator is unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties, the second will executor can quickly take over. Most executors work with a professional estate planner or probate attorney to ensure legal documents are properly filed. Probate attorneys can assist with locating missing heirs and lost property, as well as notifying creditors and negotiating outstanding debts.
Will executors perform several duties including securing assets owned by the decedent, paying outstanding debts, obtaining property appraisals, filing a final tax return and distributing assets to designated heirs.
Will executors are compensated for their time. Fees are regulated through each individual state. Some states allow estate administrators to be paid on an hourly basis. Others base compensation fees on a flat-rate scale or percentage of the estate's value.
Estate planning is a necessary part of life. Regardless of how much or how little you own, it is important to execute a will and proclaim who you would like to have your belongings in the event of your death. Should you die without a Will a probate judge will appoint a will executor and determine who will receive your assets. Don't leave this to chance. Take control and engage in estate planning.
Our estate planning article library contains numerous articles to help you understand all aspects of estate planning, probate and trusts, as well as tips for avoiding the probate process. We encourage you to take time to become educated about the probate process and steps you can take to protect your loved ones in the event of your death
Published on March 29, 2009 at 02:18 AM