A key component in an estate plan is selecting your decision-makers. One of those decision-makers is your executor, whom you name in your last will and testament to take charge of your estate after your passing.
The role of Executor is powerful, as the executor has access to your assets after your passing. While they have a legal and fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries, some executors are tempted to stray down the wrong path.
An executor in Westchester County recently was sentenced to 24 months in jail for embezzling $1.4 million from an estate. And in a recent case, Cona Elder Law successfully fought for a beneficiary to return assets plundered by a trustee.
An executor has a number of core duties and responsibilities including:
- Collecting and selling assets
- Paying claims and expenses
- Filing taxes and
- Distributing your assets to the beneficiaries as your will directs
An executor has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries to act in their best interests throughout the administration of the estate. Since an executor is managing assets on behalf of the beneficiaries, they have a duty to account to those beneficiaries and it is important that they keep good records.
At the end of the administration of an estate, the executor prepares an accounting, consisting of a list of:
- Expenses of the estate and
- A calculation of what assets remain and are to be distributed to the beneficiaries
Take care in selecting your executor: Your executor can be anyone you choose, such as a child, friend, or trusted professional. You should also name alternates if your primary executor is unable or unwilling to serve. Your executor should be someone with a good head on their shoulders. They do not need to be a financial or legal expert because they can rely on professionals for that, but should be someone who is responsible with their own finances.
Selecting the right executor can ensure your wishes are followed and family harmony is maintained after your passing.