An executor (known as a “personal representative” in Massachusetts) is named in the Last Will and Testament, and that person is responsible for managing the estate after the testator (person who writes and signs the will) passes away. The personal representative can be a very time-consuming position which includes gathering and securing the deceased’s assets and household belongings, paying debts and taxes, establishing the value of estate assets, filing court paperwork, and making distributions to beneficiaries.
Being an executor can be a very time consuming and difficult job. And a will must go through the probate process, which can take a long time … meaning your beneficiaries won’t receive their inheritance for quite a while. But if you make your executor’s job a little easier by taking the following steps, they’ll be happy and your beneficiaries will get their inheritance more promptly.
Talk to the person you choose as your executor. It’s good to talk to the person to let them know what you’re thinking. You want an executor who’s comfortable taking on the responsibility and will be diligent in performing the duties.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney. You need someone who knows estate planning and can help you create a will that ensures that your wishes are carried out. Any errors or unclear wording in your will can lead to delays and possibly litigation during the probate process.
Keep documents in a safe place and tell your executor where they are. All documents your executor will need should be in the same place and they should know where to find them. That includes your will, any trust, life insurance policies, and other estate planning documents. Don’t put documents in a safe deposit box because your executor will need your will (the one you locked in your safe deposit box) just to be able to access that safe deposit box.
Make a list of all your debts and assets. Part of your executor’s job is to identify and locate all your assets after you’ve passed away. Your list should include the location, value, a description, and any other pertinent details for every asset and debt.
Put together a list of access information for your online accounts. Your executor will need your user name and password to get access to your social media accounts, online banking, investment accounts, and other accounts you may have online that will need attention. Put this list in the same secure place you put your other estate planning documents.
And don’t forget to update your estate plan when there are big changes in your life. Events like a divorce, a new baby, or the death of loved ones can impact your estate plan. By making sure your plan is up to date, your executor will know that by doing his job properly your estate will be distributed just the way you wanted.
We’d be happy to meet with you for a free no-obligation consultation at your convenience. And we bill on a flat-fee basis, agreed to in advance, so there are never any surprises and you don’t have to hesitate to call us. Call us today at 617.299.6976 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll help you take the next step to developing an estate plan that protects yourself, your family, and your assets.