For many people, it can be very daunting to make decisions related to estate planning. Very few are completely discussing matters that involve acknowledging that they will not live forever. Death, however, is a reality and a person who is not financially prepared for his or death often creates additional difficulties for family members and loved ones. Among the most important decisions you must make in the estate planning process is determining who will serve as the executor of your estate.
Understanding the Role of Executor
Upon your death, the executor of your estate assumes responsibility for its administration and carrying out the wishes you have expressed. An executor can be a single person or an entity, such as a bank or a trust company. Whoever or whichever you choose will generally be required to:
- Gather and inventory your assets;
- Use your assets to satisfy debts and outstanding obligations;
- Close accounts and notify insurance companies, agencies, and banks of your death;
- Present your will for probate;
- Distribute your assets to named beneficiaries; and
- Perform many other duties.
The Right Person to Choose
As you decide upon an executor, it is important to consider those who might be best suited for the job. This means you should base your decision on an individual’s capabilities, not necessarily on his or relationship to you. For example, it may be assumed in your family that your oldest child—or specifically, your oldest son—will be the executor of your estate, as has been the case for generations. Your son, however, may not possess the necessary organizational skills or the ability to diffuse potentially volatile situations between family members.
Similarly, you may have a life-long friend who intimately understands your wishes regarding your will and family situation. He or she could possibly be an outstanding executor, if only you could be certain that he or she will outlive you and maintain the level of health necessary to carry out the assigned responsibilities.
The person you choose as your executor does not need to have formal legal training or a financial background, necessarily. However, he or she should be intelligent, organized, and thorough. A basic understanding of the law, the ability to promote peaceful discussions between family members, and emotional stability during stressful times will also prove extremely helpful.
Help with Carrying out Executor’s Duties
Even the most qualified executor can benefit from the assistance of a qualified legal professional. Disputes often arise during probate process and an experienced Illinois probate litigation attorney can help ensure your wishes are being honored. Contact our office to schedule an appointment and find out how we can protect the long-term future of your estate.