Monthly Archives: November 2014

Choosing An Executor for Your Will

last will and testament

An executor helps distribute assets to heirs and manages affairs in the event of a death. Picking the wrong executor could lead to delays, issues with taxes, and possibly even contested wills. The right executor will ensure prompt and accurate distribution of all assets without creating any friction amongst family members. If an executor is not chosen, the court will appoint one for the estate.

Duties of an Executor

Depending on any complications that arise, there is a range of duties that the executor is responsible for. The executor should know the scope of responsibilities before they agree to the role. These duties normally include:

  • Finding the assets – and keeping these assets safe until distribution to heirs or creditors. This also includes taking an inventory of everything in the estate.
  • Filing Court papers to start the probate process – this is the process of getting the court to validate the will.
  • Tracking down those named in the will – and making sure the property goes to the correct people.
  • Paying Bills and Debt – funeral costs are often included in the job.
  • Handling the details – cancelling credit cards, informing banks, and notifying government agencies are all important facets of this role.
  • Setting up an Account for the Estate – this not only makes paying off creditors easier, but it is also mandated in some states that the funds are kept separately from their own funds.
  • Ensuring Distribution – all assets will be distributed as laid out in the will, but if there are other assets that were not named, it is up to the executor to distribute it as dictated by state laws.

Who To Choose

An executor can be a person, persons or an institution. Choosing multiple executors ensures one person can be a financial or legal expert, while the other is close to the family. If two people are chosen it is prudent to ensure they will work well together.

Being an executor is not an easy job. Even with the most straightforward of wills, complications can arise. This will make the process of closing the estate lengthy and frustrating for everyone involved, especially the executor.

If a spouse is chosen, a backup executor should also be named. This ensures someone not chosen by the court can represent the estate in case the spouse is not up to the task or is no longer living.

Keeping this in mind, there are three main facets the chosen executor should embody:

  • Financially Responsible
  • Stable
  • Trustworthy

For anyone having a difficult time choosing his or her executor, Jones Morrison Law provides services for advising fiduciaries regarding estate and trust administration, including post-mortem tax advice, preparation of estate, gift and fiduciary income tax returns and, most importantly, the maintenance of harmonious family relations. Contact Jones Morrison today for advice and assistance with the probate and estate settlement process.


Stephen J. Jones
Direct Dial For All Offices