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How to Choose an Executor

Part of the estate planning process is choosing a responsible estate executor, someone who will look after the interests of your estate

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Estate planning can help your family avoid unnecessary taxes and smooth out the probate process. It can also ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, instead of being left up to the decisions of a court. Estate planning can even help you as you age, ensuring that you're able to pay for long-term care or have your wishes honored in the event you can't advocate for yourself.

Part of the estate planning process is choosing a responsible estate executor, someone who will look after the interests of your estate and comply with the terms of your will and/ or living will.

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How is an Estate Executor Chosen?

If you’re planning ahead, then you’re in charge of choosing an executor and naming them in your will. This individual is responsible for administering the directives of your will, working with the probate court to ensure that your assets are properly distributed and that fiscally responsible decisions are made on behalf of the estate. This is a position of great responsibility, and the executor must act on your behalf to ensure that the assets are allocated properly.

There are a few things to consider when choosing an executor:

  • Choose someone reliable who you trust to manage your affairs
  • Consider someone who lives close by, and is able to attend court hearings if necessary
  • Make sure they’re capable, aware of the responsibilities and burdens, and able to deal with multiple heirs and beneficiaries
  • Choose someone likely to outlive you

What Happens When No Estate Executor is Named?

If you don't name an executor of your estate, then the probate court will appoint an executor. This person will have the same responsibilities as the executor, but may not be the person you'd prefer, and may be unprepared for the tasks and unaware of your specific wishes.

If There is No Will, Who is the Executor?

If there is no will, then the right to administer the estate is determined by law. The first person chosen by the courts is generally the surviving spouse. However, children may also petition the court, depending on your state or province, to administer the estate and disperse assets. You should check with an attorney, as laws can vary by region.

A named executor doesn't legally have to accept the role. That’s why it’s important to discuss your choices with your chosen executor, and perhaps have a back-up in case one is unable or unwilling to take on the responsibilities.

Don't Wait – Start Your Estate Planning Process Today!

The team at ClearEstate can help you with all your estate planning needs, from naming guardians of minor children to distributing assets to finding the right estate executor to work with the probate court. Give us a call today or visit us online to learn more!

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