When it comes to managing your estate or financial affairs, you must choose wisely. Many people choose a family member as Executor of their Will or Trustee of their trusts so that fees for this service do not have to be paid. This may be a bad decision if your trust or estate has any complications.
Courts hold Trustees and Executors to the highest standards. The fiduciary must be prudent, wise and honest.
The Executor of your Will is responsible for the following duties:
- Locate the will and petition the Court for Letters Testamentary after all beneficiaries and distributees have been notified.
- Open a checking account for the Estate.
- Search your house for valuable papers and assets.
- Inspect all real estate and have it appraised.
- Examine and file claims for life insurance, Veterans’ death benefits, union death benefits, etc.
- Contact banks, brokerages and other asset holders and collect all assets.
- eview old tax returns and make sure all income and estate tax returns are filed on time.
- Pay debts of the Estate.
- Invest/sell all assets wisely.
- File an inventory with the Court.
- Prepare an accounting of all assets and debts of the Estate.
- Distribute all assets.
- Obtain waivers from beneficiaries and file them with the Court.
This is not an exhaustive list. If complications arise, the procedure can become lengthy and costly.
Trustees have a shorter list, but their responsibilities can continue for decades. The Trustee must prudently invest trust assets. This can be unsettling, as criticism from beneficiaries is common. Trustees may also have to make crucial decisions as to the timing and amount of distributions. These decisions are frequently criticized as well.
You are preparing a Will and/or Trust so that your money goes where you want it to go. Be cautious about picking your money management team. As always, contact us if you have any questions. Our Elder Law attorneys are always available to address your questions and concerns. Call us at 631.390.5000 or click here.
To read more on this topic, find Jennifer Cona quoted in the current Newsday article "Executor helps direct Great Neck woman's estate to benefit children in Israel."