Deciding how you want your resources distributed after your death is a large part of what estate planning is all about. But after you have an idea of what you want to accomplish you have to make the necessary arrangements, including the appointment of someone to carry out your wishes once you pass away.
When a Last Will is utilized to express your choices the individual who is charged with the responsibility of administering the estate is called the executor or personal representative. You choose your executor when you draw up your estate planning documents. If you fail to do so the probate court will appoint a personal representative.
Individuals who utilize a trust as an alternative to a last will must name a successor trustee. This person will be the manager of your trust estate and will handle the affairs of the estate in accordance with the wishes that you set forth when you executed the trust agreement. The successor trustee’s duties are very similar to those of an executor.
The responsibilities of the successor trustee includes identifying all of your assets, paying outstanding bills, debts and claims, the filing of your final tax return and payment of final taxes, appraisal and liquidation of property, and other tasks. The person that you select must have the time that it takes to do the job, and he or she must also be a rather business savvy individual given the nature of the position and responsibilities.
It is not uncommon for trustees and executors to bring in professional assistance in the form of accountants, attorneys, realtors and/or appraisers to assist them in the performance of their duties. Our firm has an entire department for handling the settlement of trust and probate estates.
One can also choose to engage the services of a trust company or bank trust department to administer a trust rather than appointing an individual. In our experience there is much to be said for naming an independent successor trustee.
Should you be interested in learning more about the details of estate administration, simply take a moment to pick up the phone to arrange for a consultation with a good Oklahoma City estate planning lawyer.
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Parman & Easterday