What Should I Consider When Designating an Executor?

When putting together your estate plan, you may be prioritizing who you are going to name as the beneficiaries of your assets. But what is also very important is naming the executor of your estate. Read on to discover what responsibilities you should consider when designating an executor and how a seasoned Monmouth County estate planning attorney at Margaret M. Mahon, Esq. can help you in this selection process.

What responsibilities should I consider when designating an executor?

Your executor will carry out all the responsibilities involved with managing your estate when you have passed on. This is a great undertaking, so when you are designating an executor, you must consider whether they are willing and able to take on the following responsibilities:

  • An executor must submit your will to the county Surrogate Court for admission to probate.
  • An executor must determine what the estate assets are and gather same, as well as determining the date of death value, obtaining appraisals if necessary.
  • An executor must notify certain agencies of your passing (i.e., the Social Security Administration—although most funeral homes will do this for you, your insurers, your financial institutions, etc).
  • An executor must file the final personal income tax return, inheritance or estate tax return (if applicable), and any estate income tax returns.
  • An executor must determine outstanding debts and pay off all legitimate remaining taxes and debts from estate funds.
  • An executor must pay all estate administration costs, such as attorney, accountant, surrogate and appraisal fees, from estate funds.
  • An executor must sell certain of your remaining real estate and personal property if not specifically designated in your will or if an in-kind distribution will not be made.
  • An executor must prepare a final informal accounting and distribute your assets to the individuals who are named beneficiaries in your will. The executor must also be sure all appropriate releases and refunding bonds and releases are signed by the beneficiaries.

Before establishing your will, it may be best to have a conversation with the individual you have in mind as your executor. This is so they can be informed of all the responsibilities they will have to take on before agreeing to it. This may save a lot of complications in the long run. Executors are entitled to a commission, which is a percentage of all probate assets.

What is the significance of a successor executor?

If your prospective executor is hesitant in taking on these responsibilities alone, then you may consider designating a co-executor. The advantage of this is that these two individuals may check on each other and share the responsibilities. However, the disadvantage is that these two individuals may find themselves at odds with certain estate decisions.

You should always designate a successor executor. A successor executor may step up if your primary executor becomes unwilling or unable to serve. For example, your primary executor may become mentally incapacitated, may be deceased, or may not wish to act as executor.

If your primary executor steps down, and you do not have a successor executor listed in your will, then the Surrogate may appoint an individual on your behalf. It is best to have this backup plan in place.

There are many moving parts to your estate plan that you must account for. Therefore, you should not hesitate any further in reaching out to a competent Monmouth County estate planning attorney at Margaret M. Mahon, Esq., LLC.