One of the most important parts of creating an estate plan is choosing someone to be your executor. This is an incredibly important decision because your executor will be making a huge variety of major decisions for you. He or she will also be interacting with your family, close friends and beneficiaries. You will entrust the person with the power to handle your debts, assets and property, plus resolve any disputes that might arise after you've died or become incapacitated.
More specifically, the executor of your estate will have the following duties:
- Tracking down everyone you've named in your will as a beneficiary.
- Gathering all of your assets, including property, bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, trusts, etc.
- Closing your credit card accounts and bank accounts, as well as contacting creditors and paying all applicable debts. Paying off debts has to be done before any distribution of assets can be carried out.
- Uncle Sam will take his share as well, so your executor will be in charge of making sure all necessary taxes are paid on the estate.
- Filing the will in the proper courts.
- Determining if probate is a necessary step.
- Making arrangements for payments to continue to be made. For instance, the mortgage payments will still be required if the house and other property is to be kept.
If you need help creating an estate plan or choosing a worthy executor, an estate planning attorney may be able to help you. He or she can walk you through the process and ensure all your bases are covered.