Guest Post: Executor.org CEO On How To Choose The Right Executor For Your Will
An executor is the person responsible for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person. It sounds simple enough - but it’s not. Whether you’re an executor, or just planning your estate, understanding this role better can be a great advantage to you in getting things right to simplify estate settlement.
(Patrick O'Brien, CEO and Co-Founder of Executor.org)
An executor is legally responsible for all elements of the final administration of the deceased’s estate. What that entails is different for each estate depending on the circumstances, but for most executors, there are more than 100 steps in the process. There is also typically a legal process called “probate” that must be managed.
That’s where Executor.org comes in. New users are asked to answer six simple questions, and based on your answers, you’re able to see the specific steps involved in settling that estate. There is helpful information on each of the steps in the process to guide you through it, and there are also helpful videos throughout the site. You’ll find links to several of them below. An Executor.org custom plan a great way to get organized and take control of this complex, often intimidating process.
Take the time needed to find the right person
The stakes in the executor role are high. There is real legal and financial risk in accepting the responsibility of performing the job. If you mismanage assets, botch the process, or treat a beneficiary unfairly, you’re legally liable. And, after the death of parents, many families are ripped apart by the process as siblings squabble over asset distribution. In the executor role, you’ll want to do your best to keep the family strong - and we’ll give you proven strategies to do that. And, perhaps most importantly, as executor, you’ll want to do a great job of honoring the wishes of the will writer. You want to do a fantastic job in the role out of respect for them.
By definition, the executor is in charge of protecting the assets in the estate - everything from money to a bank account to the contents of a home (and the home itself if it was owned by the will writer). An executor is likely also responsible for filing the will with the probate court.
At the end of the process, at the court’s direction, the executor will then distribute the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries (who are named in the will to receive the assets). This must typically be done very thoughtfully and with great communication for it to go well as it can be a challenge to define the value of some items and others hold great sentimental value.
What's in it for the executor?
Depending on the will and/or the court, the executor may be eligible to be compensated for the work. This is typically the choice of the executor and this is another decision that must be made thoughtfully. The estate will pay for all the costs incurred in the final settlement of the estate, including compensating the executor (within established guidelines).
And, generally speaking, the executor must act with “good faith.” If an executor is found to not act according to this standard there may be legal repercussions. If you are uncomfortable serving as executor, you are able to decline the responsibility and the probate judge will appoint a replacement.
Executor.org will help you understand your duties, guide you through every step of the executor process (literally), allow you to track your progress, and you can utilize our spreadsheets to keep track of important financial details. It’s a wonderful tool to help you in your executor duties.
Think of it as a digital executor checklist - but something that is a whole lot more helpful! Click here to get started.