There are a number of different ways to go about planning your estate, but of course the most common vehicle of transfer that people have traditionally utilized is a last will. When you express your final wishes with a last will your estate must be probated. This is when the probate or surrogate court examines the will to determine whether or not it is valid and then supervises the administration of the estate. When you hear that term “administration of the estate” it sounds smooth and autonomous, like it simply takes care of itself. But does it really?
When you break it down the last will is a very important document, but it is just a document after all. It contains your decisions and instructions, but they have to be carried out by someone in a hands-on manner. This “someone” is going to be the executor of your estate. You select the executor when you create the document, and it is important to recognize the fact that this is not just an honorary position that you give to someone that you care about a great deal. The executor has to take care of a number of very important matters, and some of these may require a good bit of business acumen depending on the specific nature of your estate.
It is up to the executor to take care of all the final debts that you may have as well as paying your final taxes. He or she must also inventory your assets and liquidate some of them in preparation for distribution to your heirs in accordance with your wishes. And the executor is the point of contact between your family members and the business that is being conducted on behalf of the estate, and this can require very well developed people skills. As you might imagine, estate administration can be time-consuming so your executor must have the available time that it takes to get the job done.
The executor to an estate has a difficult job to do, and this is something to keep in mind when you are making this choice. There are experienced professionals who have a thorough understanding of the probate process who will act as executor for a fee, and this is something that you may want to consider as well.