How To Manage Your Estate

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An executor is the person or corporate fiduciary (trust company) that is appointed under your will to manage your estate after you die. The executor will: offer your will to the court for probate; marshal your assets; file an inventory of your assets with the court; pay all debts, expenses of administration, and taxes; and sell any property that must be sold to put the estate in a position to be closed.

The executor will petition the court to make an order to distribute your estate. During the probate of your estate, the executor has the duty to account for the financial transactions of the estate and to keep the court and the beneficiaries informed as to the progress of the estate administration. After the court issues the order for distribution, the executor will distribute your estate pursuant to the terms of the order that incorporates the asset disposition provisions of your will.

A will does not have to nominate an executor to be valid. However, nomination in your will of the executor permits you to select the executor and to determine whether the executor should be bonded or not.

Carefully select your executor. Too many people feel that the job is merely honorary and that competence is a secondary consideration. Nothing could be further from the truth. A good executor will make the difference between an estate that is handled efficiently and expeditiously versus an estate that will get mired in eventual litigation and losses. A good executor is one who keeps detailed financial records, is not a procrastinator, and can make difficult decisions. Although the executor will most likely hire a lawyer for assistance, the responsibility begins and ends with the executor.

Excerpt from The Weekend Estate Planning Kit: The Fast and Simple Way to Maximize Assets, Minimize Taxes and Protect Loved Ones by Douglas E. Godbe, Attorney at Law.

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