Role of the Executor
The executor will be the person or institution responsible for administering your estate after your death. The most important thing is to pick some one who is financial responsible, stable, and trustworthy.
The executor is responsible for:
- Collecting the assets of the estate
- Protecting the estate property (by investing wisely or liquidating estate assets)
- Preparing an inventory of the probate assets
- Paying valid claims against the estate
- Preparing and filing inheritance and estate tax returns and fiduciary income tax returns
- Paying the taxes associated with those tax returns
- Representing the estate in claims against others
- Distributing the estate property to the beneficiaries (including tangible personal properties)
The executor does not have to shoulder the entire burden of performing these tasks and normally engages our law firm to take care of most of these functions.
There is no consensus, even among lawyers, about who makes the best executor; it all depends upon your individual circumstances.
One approach is to appoint someone with no potential conflict of interest - that is, someone who does not stand to gain from the will. This could be a sole executor or co-executor. Under this approach, some people avoid naming family members or business partners. This helps to avoid will contests from disgruntled relatives who might accuse the executor of cheating. If you have several beneficiaries who do not get along, you may want an outside executor (or co-executor) who is independent of all factions.
The independent executor could be a non-family member or a bank or trust company.
Some people simply choose their spouse or a mature child or children to be the executor. This person will naturally be interested in making sure the probate process goes as quickly and smoothly as possible. Other individuals who own or run a business choose a business partner or officer of the business to be an executor or co-executor.
Executors (both individual and corporate) can receive compensation for their services. The compensation can be calculated in accordance with a fee schedule based upon the assets of the estate or on an hourly basis for work performed. The duration of the executor's duties lasts normally around one year to 18 months (longer for larger or more complicated estates).