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How to Appoint an Executor For Your Will

The executor of your estate is responsible for distributing your assets, paying your debtors, and ensuring your beneficiaries receive their inheritance.

Have you ever heard the Winston Churchill quote, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail?” Failing to plan for the right person or entity to be an executor of your will after your death can lead to a long, arduous, and costly process. To best serve your estate and your beneficiaries you should appoint an executor for your will. 

Young woman speaking to her grandmother about appointing an executor for her estate.

The one thing you don’t want your loved one to inherit is a headache! Appointing an executor is a detail that should not be overlooked in the process of planning a will. If you decide to not appoint an executor, the courts will appoint one on your behalf—this can be expensive and stall the process of estate settlement. 

The executor’s role carries a lot of responsibility in protecting, managing, and distributing the estate assets to the named beneficiaries. In other words, you want to designate an executor you trust who is capable of intently carrying out your wishes. Thus, selecting an executor for your estate can be a difficult decision. Take time to consider a handful of candidates before deciding on one that can carry out all of the duties necessary to protect your estate.

What is an Executor?

An executor of a will is an individual selected by you, also known as the testator, to carry out the wishes laid out in your will. They will manage the estate settlement until the assets are distributed and the estate is closed.  In some cases, the executor may be a corporate entity or bank, especially if there is a trust in place. But for many, the executor is someone close to the testator like a spouse, child, or close family member. You want the process of settling your estate to be as quick, cost-effective, and painless as possible. 

What Responsibilities Does an Executor Have?

Executors can be subject to probate court oversight and carry many responsibilities that range from maintaining the assets while working through the estate settlement process to notifying government agencies of the testator’s passing. Here is a short list of some responsibilities that you can expect will fall under the executor’s duties:

  • File the will with the appropriate probate court and be available during the probate process
  • Notify all beneficiaries or interested parties listed in the will
  • Identify all of the testator’s assets
  • Maintain property and assets until distributed
  • Pay off all debtors 
  • Pay all state and federal taxes 
  • Distribute or transfer all remaining funds, assets, or property to the beneficiaries named in the will
  • Close or cancel any accounts like social security, credit cards, or subscriptions
  • Close the estate

How to Choose the Right Executor

Often, selecting the right person can be one of the toughest tasks in the estate planning process. This selection can be emotional and carries a lot of weight. You want to select an executor for your will who is available immediately and can manage the responsibility of starting the probate process even while dealing with their grief. The executor of an estate should be responsible, trusted, and not have any outstanding feuds with any of your beneficiaries. 

The executor should be firm and direct about protecting all assets until the process is finished. Select an executor for your will who will not go against the interests of the beneficiaries or act against the provisions of the will. This process can be complex and time-consuming. Appointing someone responsible and diligent who understands that they can face legal and civil ramifications if they do not fulfill all of their duties is critical.

Appointing the Executor You Selected

If you decided on an executor to include in your will, congratulations! This is one of the hardest decisions in this process. Naming an executor is as simple as putting their name as the chosen executor in your will and giving the necessary information to the executor regarding where to find your will after you pass away. It is not required to share all of the details laid out in the will with the executor—this can stay confidential.  In the event that you pass away, the named executor will file a petition with the probate court to be confirmed as the executor and start the process of closing the estate and distributing the assets—just as you laid out in your last will and testament.

Mobile Estate Planning Made Easy

The process of getting a legitimate will in place for you and your family can be overwhelming, confusing, and costly, but it doesn’t have to be! At Assurest, we offer simple, affordable solutions for your legal needs and make the process easy by coming to you for the conversation—meeting you in your home or, if you prefer, virtually or over the phone.

Serving the Greater Richmond area and beyond, our experienced and trustworthy professionals simplify the process using clear, understandable language free of legal jargon and provide flat-rate packages, so you’re never surprised by the bill. Contact us today and rest assured that your affairs are in order and your loved ones are protected.

Disclaimer: This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  Responses to inquiries, whether by email, telephone, or other means, do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create or imply the existence of an attorney-client relationship.

Written By
Matthew Reinaker
January 30, 2023
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