Choosing the Executor of Your Estate: Roles and Responsibilities - Adviser Investments

Choosing the Executor of Your Estate: Roles and Responsibilities

February 22, 2022

Selecting the executor of your estate is a key step to ensure your estate planning wishes are fulfilled. To help you make an informed selection, here are factors to consider, including the individual’s character and their ability to fulfill the required roles and responsibilities.

How to Choose an Estate Executor

An estate executor is responsible for administering your estate after your death, and has a fiduciary obligation to act in the best interests of your beneficiaries. Other titles for this role include estate administrator, personal representative or trustee (for trusts).

Understandably, many individuals pick someone close to them, like a family member or long-time friend, as their estate executor.

In many cases, that decision works out. Of course, there are other times when it doesn’t. Therefore, when choosing the executor of your estate or a trust, keep the following character traits in mind:

Choosing-the-Executor-of-Estate

Estate Executor Roles and Responsibilities

According to the IRS, there are several tasks an estate administrator facilitates, including:

  • Collecting decedent’s assets
  • Appraising assets for value (e.g., artwork, jewelry, antiques)
  • Verifying debts
  • Paying creditors
  • Filing tax returns
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries

In many instances, an estate administrator’s initial responsibility is to submit an accounting of the decedent’s assets and debts to the probate court. However, using advanced estate-planning strategies like trusts can help bypass this step—ultimately saving your loved one’s time and minimizing tax obligations.

And don’t forget, the duties of an estate administrator may vary by state.


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Special Considerations: Estate Planning Attorneys

Estate planning attorneys fill numerous important roles in this process. Here are two that may help your executor as well as your loved ones:

1) Save Time: An estate executor’s job is time-consuming. What’s more, when you name someone close to you as your executor, they are likely be affected by grief following your passing. To offset these challenges, encourage your executor to hire an estate planning attorney to facilitate your estate’s administrative details. Ideally, this individual created your estate plan.

2) Provide Neutrality: If your family dynamics are complex (e.g., addiction, quarreling siblings, estrangement, etc.), hiring an estate planning attorney as your executor could help minimize conflict by providing an unbiased voice. This approach may be especially helpful for second marriages, particularly when children from multiple marriages are involved.

Next Steps

Rest assured, many people have asked the question: Who should I choose as my executor?

Candidly, it’s a difficult decision, since not everyone possesses the ideal character traits. Therefore, when making your final selection, ask yourself: Who will respect my final wishes and act responsibly? Generally, a respectful and conscientious individual will find a way to get the job done.

Also, seek guidance from experienced financial professionals who have helped others weigh the pros and cons of their estate executor options. Contact Adviser Investments anytime for assistance. We pride ourselves on being The Planner You Can Talk To.


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Tax and legal information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice.  Personalized tax advice and tax return preparation is available through a separate, written engagement agreement with Adviser Investments Tax Solutions. We do not provide legal advice. Always consult a licensed attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Our statements and opinions are subject to change without notice.  All investments carry risk of loss and there is no guarantee that investment objectives will be achieved.

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