Deciding Who Should Be Your Executor

Deciding Who Should Be Your Executor

Even thinking about preparing or updating your estate planning documents is tough stuff. There are many variables to consider.

One of the places in estate planning where people get stuck, is deciding who is going to be in charge of the process. Sometimes that can be harder than distributing assets. The person in charge of your assets after you pass is called the executor, or executrix, depending on whether a man or woman is fulfilling the role, says the New Hampshire Union Leader in a recent article “Estate planning? What to consider when selecting a personal representative.”

It may seem straightforward. The person must read your will and simply follow your directions.However, there are a lot of important tasks that come with settling an estate. They include making decisions, financial issues and dealing with potentially argumentative heirs. It’s a serious job.

When considering who you would like to select to serve as your executor, there are many different tasks to take care of. They vary from state to state, so speak with your estate planning attorney as you put your estate plan together.

Some of these tasks include:

  • Probating the will
  • Obtaining a federal tax identification number for the estate account
  • Identifying and valuing all the assets
  • Determining which assets go through probate and which go directly to beneficiaries
  • Collecting any monies owed to the estate
  • Notifying banks, government agencies, investment companies, banks, Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Administration, etc.
  • Providing for survivor expenses
  • Paying administrative and court costs
  • Paying final expenses, including medical and funeral costs
  • Filing income and estate tax returns—both federal and state
  • Distributing assets of the estate
  • Closing out the estate.

If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Depending on how complex the estate is, will determine who should be your executor.

Make sure the person you select can manage details, meet deadlines, stay organized and deal with your family members. Another consideration—do they have the time to manage these tasks, and do they want to take this on? They must also be completely trustworthy. 

Usually a family member is named, and if there are no family members who can or are willing to take on the role, the next person is a close and trusted friend. It’s a good idea to name someone younger than you.

A complicated estate may need the help of a professional co-executor. That may be your elder law attorney or a bank officer from a trust department. Having a team in place is sometimes worthwhile.

Just as your estate plan needs to be reviewed every few years, review your executor every few years. If the relationship changes, or if their life undergoes changes, they may not be the right person.

Reference: New Hampshire Union Leader (Sep. 14, 2019) “Estate planning? What to consider when selecting a personal representative.”

Hear From Our Clients

I heard Cindy’s presentation at a Senior Luncheon at my church, and was very impressed. She helped my daughter and me understand many aspects of elder law. Josh has also been very helpful in my planning to enter an independent living situation . I have told many friends about them.

- Charlotte

The very best elder law attorney and staff anyone could ever ask for! I have referred a number of clients to Cindy and she never disappoints. She is kind, caring, and extremely thorough in making sure everything is completed as it should be. I highly recommend Cindy for anyone needing lawyer services; she truly goes above and beyond for every client she helps and has had a huge impact in so many peoples’ lives. Thank you, Cindy and staff, for everything that you do- I’m so glad to know you!

- Kerri

Cindy and the Nelson Elder Care Law team are trustworthy and helpful. They are the experts in elder care law. At Leaf Cremation, we entrust our families to the care of the Nelson team when their services are needed.

- Pierce

Josh Nelson, and his staff, have been amazingly helpful to our family. The ins and outs of nursing homes, the rules and regulations that govern Medicare and Medicaid are daunting and the folks at Nelson Elder Care Law have been informative, responsive, and above all, empathetic. I cannot emphasize enough how their service has taken a weight off of our shoulders especially during a world pandemic that has targeted nursing homes across our country. I highly recommend retaining Josh and his firm!

- Marcia

I had a simple legal question to them that I needed answered and they very helpful in giving me the information I needed. I highly recommend them and will reach out to them if I need more advice or assistance. Thank you for taking your time to just answer a couple of questions I had!

- Ben