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Choosing Your Executor - What You Should Consider

Father and daughter holding hands and walking toward a sunsetYou can choose your spouse, another family member or a close friend to be the Executor of your estate. It is generally helpful to choose a person who is willing and able to make financial decisions, and who is organized, trustworthy and efficient.  Although the amount of work required depends to a degree on the size and complexity of the estate, the role of executor can require a considerable amount of work.  Executors are entitled to collect fees for their work.  They can also be held liable if they mismanage the estate. So, it is important that the executor seek assistance in administering a decedent’s estate.   

What is the role of the executor?

The Executor (male) or Executrix (female) of a Will makes sure that the dictates of a Will are carried out and is responsible for the administration of a decedent’s Estate.  An Estate is the property owned by a decedent at death that passes to beneficiaries under a will.  It can include cash, jewelry, a house, a co-op and any other property owned by a decedent.   It does not include property owned jointly with another, like a home owned jointly by two spouses, or the proceeds of a life insurance policy.   

The Executor gathers the assets of the decedent and manages them while the estate is probated.  Probate means to file the original will with the court and to notify those required by law of the filing of the will. The Executor then pays the decedent’s outstanding debts.  If there is a co-op apartment or other property, the Executor may have to sell the property. The Executor is also responsible for filing the decedent’s final income tax return and a tax return for the estate.  After all of the decedent’s expenses are paid, the Executor distributes the remainder of the decedent’s assets in accordance with the decedent’s will.  Finally, the executor may be required to file an accounting with the court. An accounting includes a description of all of the income and expenses of the estate and lists any distributions made to the beneficiaries by the Executor. 

If you’ve found this blog post useful and would like to find out what would work best in your own unique situation, contact The Law Office of Robert J. Maher, P.C. for a complimentary 90-minute consultation. Our estate planning lawyer in New York has helped clients since 2009. Reach out as soon as possible!