If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you have probably heard us refer to executors numerous times. But what is an executor? Who determines who this person is? What does the executor do?
Understanding an executor’s duties, the role he or she plays in your estate plan, and what you can do to choose an executor is absolutely essential when crafting a plan. Today we are going to take a closer look at executors, what you have to do to choose one, and other important issues surrounding them.
Executors, Personal Representatives, and Estate Administrators
The term “executor” refers to a person, or sometimes an organization, that has the responsibility to manage the estate left behind by a deceased person, known as the decedent. More specifically, an executor is someone chosen by the decedent to represent his or her estate in the decedent’s last will and testament. In other words, when a person makes a last will and testament, that person can choose who the executor of his or her estate will be.
You might also come across the terms “personal representative” or “estate administrator” when dealing with executors. Though there are some technical differences between how these terms are used in the law, for our purposes you can view them all as synonymous. In other words, regardless of whether you are dealing with an executor, estate administrator, or personal representative, all of these people have the responsibility of managing a deceased person’s estate.
As we mentioned above, you can choose your own executor when you make a last will and testament. You have to make sure your last will and testament complies with any relevant laws, but as long as your will meets legal standards, you can choose almost anyone you like.
The two main caveats about choosing an executor are that the person you select must be a mentally capable adult, and must be willing to serve. You cannot, for example, choose someone to be your executor who is unwilling, or unable to serve.
Further, you can also choose an organization, such as a bank or trust company, to serve as the executor of your estate.
Executors have to perform a variety of duties, and the more complex the estate, the more complex those duties tend to be. At its simplest, an executor’s responsibility is to ensure that the estate proceeds through the probate process as quickly and as easily as possible. The executor is there to ensure that the estate property is properly managed until the proper beneficiaries can be identified. The executor must also manage the estate through the probate process, also known as the estate settlement process, which can be lengthy and rather complicated. This is why almost every executor hires a probate attorney to assist with the estate settlement process.
Need Help Now?
Information is great, but at some point, you may reach the conclusion that it’s time to discuss your planning with a professional team of experienced estate planning attorneys. Whether you want to draft a last will and testament or create a comprehensive estate plan, our doors are open and we’re ready to assist.
You can schedule a consultation in Oklahoma City or Tulsa by calling 405-843-6100, or in the Overland Park, Kansas area by calling 913-385-9400. We also have a contact form you can use to send us a message.