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.


When a Prenup is in Order

Should I get a prenup in new york state?


Prenuptial Agreement: An agreement made by a couple before marriage, usually concerning the ownership of assets should the marriage fail.


The Numbers

2009 marked a 40-year low for divorce rates in the United States, a symptom of the economic recession. Since then, rates have increased yearly, highlighting causality between financial stability and the ability to leave the relative security of an unhappy marriage. (source)

Over the past 5 years, 73% of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) reported that requests for prenuptial agreements have increased.  (source)

The Conversation

Having the conversation about a prenup is the first step to understanding if your marriage is financially compatible. Many people’s first reaction to having a prenup brought into conversation is that their spouse has no faith in the marriage. The ability to have a practical discussion about future financial security is one indicator of a compatible partnership. This is the ideal time to create plans and goals for future and calculating the path to get there.

I’m Not Wealthy

Prenups are not only to cover existing assets, but also future accumulated wealth. The agreement can cover any number of complications including one spouse being a business owner, one spouse agreeing to stay home to raise children, children from a previous marriage, real estate, and more.

Reasons to Sign

1. Children from a prior marriage – An individual entering a second marriage will often have major financial pre-existing commitments to children and possibly a former spouse.

2. People are marrying late in life after accumulation of assets – With fewer years to work, it is advisable to secure one’s assets against the possibility of a failed marriage and potential financial loss.

3. Did you know? In New York all assets are presumed to be marital and therefore presumed to be divisible in a divorce. In a prenup one can eliminate these presumptions, creating a contract that typically states that certain property shall remain one’s property. The burden of proving that property is separate (in NY property owned prior to the marriage) is eliminated, bringing greater certainty and eliminating potentially costly litigation.

4. Couples can use prenups to affirmatively plan for each other as well.

Who Needs a Prenup?

  • Second marriages
  • Business owners
  • People with assets
  • People with expectation of inheritance
  • Those entering marriage who already have children

Too Late?

No matter how long you’ve been married, a couple can always opt to create a postnuptial agreement. These contracts are usually created to set a household budget, settle financial turmoil in the marriage, or remove a newly acquired asset from any possible divorce proceedings (such as inherited real estate or a business venture.

When it comes to creating an agreement with your future spouse, the earlier you start the discussion, the better. If you are interested in learning more about prenuptial agreements, contact Jones Morrison LLP today at (914) 472-2300.

Our Long-Term Commitment to our Clients

Theresa Strawbridge

Theresa Strawbridge

Our client permanently relocated to Europe and after many years fell out of contact with us.  We had no current contact information.  We learned that substantial unclaimed funds had been identified belonging to her.  We accepted the funds and held them in trust.  For two years Theresa Strawbridge of our staff pursued the task of locating her, even consulting with her country’s consulate.

This month Theresa located a family member in Europe who re-connected us to our client.  Within a few days we were able to wire her money to her.  No charge.  “I thought to myself, I hope someone would do the same thing for me,” said Theresa Strawbridge, office assistant.

Theresa’s caring and diligence is commendable and typical of our long-term commitment to our clients.

We encourage our clients to have regular communication with our firm.  We want to be to provide counsel to you on all aspects of your business and life.  As this case study shows, “Hey, you never know…”.


Common Legal Issues Faced by Small Business Owners – and How to Protect Yourself


For entrepreneurs and small business owners alike, owning and operating a small business is an incredibly rewarding experience. However, with these positions also come legal responsibilities that must be kept in mind at all times.


Keeping Proper Records

For small businesses, it is imperative that a well-organized system of recordkeeping be instilled, which includes tax records, employment records, any contracts your business may have, etc. Not doing so means you are running the risk of missing out on any future acquisitions because you may not be able to properly present the assets and liabilities of your company. You can also set yourself up for liability of any debts your company has if you do not have the paperwork you need to prove otherwise. Get to know each and every document that is required of your company and be diligent on when and if any need to be renewed and when your bills and taxes need to be paid. Keep these documents well organized and in a safe place.


Creating Employment Agreements

Make sure your rights are protected as a small business owner by creating a non-compete agreement contract for your employees. Not doing so means you are running the risk of an employee leaving your company to create a competing company, and also means you will miss out on acquiring any intellectual property from your employees. Create an employee agreement form for all new employees to sign immediately upon employment, and use the same form for any independent contractors your company may hire.


Consulting with a Legal Professional

Consulting with a legal professional in regards to any business-related contracts, forms, etc., is often seen as an unnecessary expense by many small business owners, who instead choose to rely on documents found on the Internet. While this may seem like an effective cost-cutting method, in reality it is one that could cost much more in the future. Using information from unreliable sources is very dangerous when it comes to the legalities of your business.  Always consult with a legal professional to make sure your company and its rights are properly protected at all times.

Our team of dedicated attorneys is here to help keep your small business in compliance. Contact us to get started.

Stephen J. Jones
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