When you plan your estate, you execute legally binding documents that facilitate asset transfers. Stating your wishes in writing is a large part of the equation, but there is also a postmortem process to consider.
There is a human element. You can record your wishes in writing, but someone has to actually do the legwork after you pass away and handle the estate administration tasks.
The last will is the most commonly used vehicle of asset transfer in the field of estate planning. If you use a last will to state your final wishes, you name an executor or executrix to administer your estate after you pass away.
An executor is a male who is serving this role, and an executrix is a female.
The executor has a number of different responsibilities. First off, there is a proving of the will. The executor cannot simply distribute assets to the heirs in accordance with the wishes of the decedent immediately. The will must be admitted to probate before anyone can receive inheritances.
Probate is the legal process of estate administration. During probate, the probate court will examine the will to determine its validity. If anyone wanted to challenge the will, an argument could be presented during the probate process.
The executor must guide the estate through probate. Assuming the will is valid, the executor must make sure that all final debts are paid. This would include tax responsibilities.
If interested parties wanted to be informed about the progress that is being made with regard to the administration of the estate, they would communicate with the executor.
Ultimately, the executor must prepare the assets for distribution to the heirs in accordance with the wishes of the decedent as stated in the last will. This can involve property appraisals and liquidation, so it can be a rather multifaceted task.
In the end, the executor will distribute assets to the heirs.
When you are choosing an executor, you should certainly select someone who has a good bit of business acumen. Clearly, the executor should live close to you if this is at all possible, and you should consider the anticipated longevity of the person that you choose.
You should also discuss things with the person that you want to name as executor, because you want to make sure that this individual is willing to assume the role after your passing.
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If you would like to put an estate plan in place or update your existing plan, our firm can help. We offer free consultations, and you can request an appointment through this page: Grand Forks ND Estate Planning Attorneys.
At the consultation we will answer all of your questions, become apprised of your objectives, and make the appropriate recommendations.