People are often intimidated by the legal process and avoid completing projects that are designed to benefit them. Developing a comprehensive estate plan falls into this category for many individuals. While this task might seem cumbersome, the more effort you put into it the more peace of mind you receive.
Generally, an estate plan contains elements such as a will, trust, power of attorney and health care proxy. Many people become stuck when attempting to name an executor because they’re not sure what this person’s role will be. While an executor isn’t legally required to receive any special training or instruction, he or she will be tasked with several responsibilities, namely:
- Locating assets: The executor is responsible for locating and protecting the deceased’s assets. This might also include the management of assets such as deciding which assets to liquidate.
- Locating heirs: The executor is responsible for tracking down named heirs from the will and providing them with information about what they have inherited and the process going forward.
- Managing financial affairs: This can include canceling credit cards and notifying institutions such as banks and the Social Security Administration. Additionally, this might entail paying off various credit cards and loans out of the estate.
- Final income taxes: The executor is responsible for filing a tax return for the final year the deceased was alive.
Essentially, the tasks can be categorized as finalizing affairs. The executor is responsible for notifications and closing accounts. While this might seem like a daunting responsibility, executors will often enlist the aid and guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure nothing gets missed. It is important to develop a strong estate plan naming an executor you trust.