Appointment of an Executor
Always be sure to ask the person that you are naming as your Executor whether they are prepared to accept this responsibility. The basic duties of your Executor include the following:
- make appropriate funeral arrangements;
- locate the will;
- determine names and addresses of beneficiaries and notify them of their interest;
- inventory and arrange for the safe keeping of assets;
- payment of debts;
- prepare and file tax returns;
- distribution of the assets according to the will; and
- keep proper accounts.
In more complex estates an Executor may also have to make arrangements for the interim management of a business or invest assets for on-going trusts as directed in the will.
In choosing an Executor, you will want to ask yourself, “Will this person be available to handle these duties? Is this person capable of handling financial matters? Will this person act in the best interest of my family and beneficiaries?” The Executor may choose to hire a lawyer to assist them with their duties, but if the estate is small and/or straight forward, and if the Executor has administrative skills, it may not be necessary to hire a lawyer.
You may choose one or more people to act as your Executor. If you choose one person, it is a good idea to choose an alternate Executor in case your designated Executor dies, declines, or fails to act on your behalf. If the Executor you choose is unable or unwilling to act on your behalf, the court will appoint someone in their place. The other terms of your will remain valid.
If it is necessary for the court to appoint an “Estate Trustee” because the provisions of the will failed or because there is no will, this person usually doesn’t have the same power and flexibility as the Executor who’s named in a will. Without a will, assets are usually liquidated as quickly as possible, but this may not be the best approach where there are assets that need to be managed, such as a business or rental property.