The role that an executor plays in the administration of an estate is an important one. For that reason, estate planners should understand the duties of an executor and how to select one.
Duties of an executor
An executor functions as a fiduciary for the estate and has the responsibility for managing every aspect of the estate including:
- Determining all of the estate planner’s assets and accounting for the estate planner’s liabilities;
- Submitting the will to the probate court for the probate process;
- Responsibility for tax collections, tax filings and court accountings of income and expenses;
- Obtaining a valuation for the real estate, financial and business assets of the estate planner;
- Arbitrating family disputes in some circumstances; and
- Working with attorneys, CPAs and other professionals as needed to administer the estate.
The process of administering the estate can be a great deal of work and can last a minimum of 2 years. The estate administration process is considered complete when the liabilities and expenses of the estate are satisfied; when the assets of the estate are distributed; and the final tax filings are accepted by various taxing authorities.
Attributes of an executor
Because of the important role the executor plays in administering the estate, the estate planner should select someone who is responsible and pays attention to detail. It is also helpful if they have experience working with financial professionals. Age should also be considered so that the executor possesses the necessary attributes but is also likely to outlive the estate planner.
Finally, knowledge of the estate planner’s values and unique family situation is also helpful. Estate planning is important for planning ahead which is why the estate planner should carefully select their executor to administer their estate.