In preparing a will, pick executor carefully Proper choice will help ensure wishes are carried out


November 17, 1996|By Michael Gisriel

Dear Mr. Gisriel:

I'm in the process of having my will prepared. One of the questions I face concerns who should be the executor of my estate. Please give me an explanation of what the duties are, etc.

Richard Roberson


Dear Mr. Roberson:

One of the most important and sometimes agonizing decisions you can make in the preparation of your will is the choice of a personal representative.

The executor you name must combine the tact of a diplomat with the administrative skills of a professional executive.

The person should be close enough to you and your family to do as you would wish, yet be able to act without the sway of emotions caused by conflicts among family members.

The executor's job is to wrap up your financial affairs, beginning with identification of assets that are part of your estate and a determination of their value.

This would include executing deeds to heirs of the estate. Often this requires hiring an appraiser, whose fee plus expenses for lawyers, accountants and other professionals comes out of your estate's assets.

An executor pays all of your remaining debts, files tax returns and distributes whatever is left to your heirs.

Throughout, careful records must be kept. Most probate courts will demand a detailed account of all money received, spent or held by your estate.

If you die without a will, the court appoints an administrator to perform the executor's duties. When no relative or beneficiary can take the job, the appointee is likely to be a court-appointed attorney.

Administrators/executors often have to post a bond to safeguard the heirs' financial interests.

The cost of the bond premium also comes out of assets that would otherwise go to your beneficiaries.

Almost any person you trust can be your executor. For most people, the common choice is the spouse or best friend, who may also be a beneficiary.

Large estates may need two executors, one person to interpret your wishes and another person or institution, such as a bank, to make business or investment decisions, pay taxes and keep records.

Whomever you choose, tell them of your decision; make sure they are willing to accept the responsibility.

It is often advisable to go over your will with your executor to clear up any ambiguities about your intentions, but you need not give out a copy.

Remember, the proper choice of an executor will make it easier for your family and other heirs to enjoy the benefits of your estate.

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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