Probate, the process of establishing the validity of a will, is a stressful and time-consuming process that most people hope to avoid. However, even if you are able to create a detailed estate plan that allows your beneficiaries a chance to bypass probate, someone must still administer your estate. In most cases, a person who has left behind a valid will has named someone to act as executor of his or her estate. The executor is responsible for making sure that your burial instructions are followed, paying your creditors, and distributing your assets in the manner you outlined in your estate plan.
Many people name their oldest child, sibling, or their spouse as executor out of a sense of tradition or obligation. Unfortunately, choosing a person based on their birth order or relationship to you can cause trouble if that person is unsuited for the task. Understanding what traits your executor should have will increase your chances of naming a person with the ability to properly manage your estate and ensure that your heirs receive their bequests in a reasonable time frame.
Every type of legal process is time sensitive in some manner. Hearing dates, document filings, and other tasks must be completed within a specific time frame, and missing deadlines can create many problems. The person who manages your estate should be someone who is able to complete tasks in a timely manner. Naming a child who is constantly late, inattentive, and has no sense of urgency as your executor can create problems for all of your named beneficiaries.
The role of executor does usually include some form of compensation, but the percentage an executor is able to claim rarely compensates him or her for all of the time spent managing the estate. Whoever you name should have some level of financial stability that allows him or her to take time away from work to focus on completing tasks associated with the estate. In some cases, your executor may need to travel to manage property that is located in another state or travel because he or she lives in a different state. Naming someone who cannot afford to stop working in order to fulfill the duties of an executor may lead to trouble.
One of the primary roles of an executor is communicating on a regular basis with everyone who has any association with the estate. An executor must speak to court officials, creditors, the Internal Revenue Service, funeral homes, attorneys, and beneficiaries. If an executor does not communicate regularly with these parties, delays occur, and those delays may turn into full-fledged disputes. Lack of communication is one of the primary reasons beneficiaries dispute the validity of wills or attempt to remove executors. A lack of communication is sometimes viewed as a deliberate attempt to hide information or avoid turning assets over to the appropriate parties.
Deciding who should be your executor is not something that you have to do alone. Often the opinion and advice of an outside party can improve your chances of making a truly objective choice. The probate attorneys at MMZ Law understand how difficult choosing an executor is and we know that making a bad choice can affect those closest to you. We are able to provide the legal advice you need to make a decision that protects your assets, your heirs, and your legacy. Contact our Claremont, California office today and schedule an initial consultation so that we can begin providing you with the representation you deserve.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
MMZ LAW, A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711
MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.
This information is educational information only and not legal advice.