If you use a last will to express your final wishes regarding asset transfers, you name an executor or executrix. This is the person who will handle the estate administration tasks after you pass away. An executor is a male who holds this position, and an executrix is a female estate administrator.
In some states, the estate administrator is called a personal representative.
When you are choosing an executor, you should recognize the fact that it is not a purely ceremonial role. The executor is going to conduct the estate’s business, so you should make sure that you choose someone who is capable of carrying out the estate administration tasks.
What are these tasks? The executor must identify and secure the property that is comprising the estate, and the will must be admitted to probate.
Probate is a legal process. The executor will take care of the estate administration tasks, but the overall administration is supervised by the Surrogate’s Court. The court will examine the will to make sure that it is valid.
The executor must pay final debts during the probate process, and this will include final taxes. Property must be inventoried and prepared for distribution to the heirs. Appraisals and liquidation of property may be necessary, and the executor must address all of these details.
People who have an interest in the estate may have questions about how things are going during the probate process. The executor would be the person communicating with all interested parties, so your executor should be someone who is good with people.
Ultimately, the executor will follow the instructions that you leave behind in the will and distribute assets to the heirs in accordance with your wishes.
Choosing an Executor
You probably want to avoid sentimentality when you are choosing an executor. The person that you choose should be fully capable of handling the business of the estate.
Clearly, you want to choose someone with a good bit of business acumen, and geography is a factor as well. You don’t want to choose an executor who lives across the country.
Time is another factor that you should take into consideration. Administering the estate can be a time-consuming endeavor, so you should empower an executor who has the ability to devote a lot of time to the estate administration tasks.
When you think about choosing an executor, family members and close friends may come to mind. You can certainly choose someone that you know, but there are also professionals who can be engaged if you want to go that route.