Executor Selection Guide – FAQs

Choosing the Right Executor for Your Will and Estate

What Is an Executor?

At Goldberg & Goldberg, we understand the importance of making informed decisions regarding your estate planning. An executor, or personal representative in some states, is tasked with the responsibility of managing and settling your financial affairs after you’ve passed on. This vital role includes safeguarding assets, settling debts, paying taxes, and ensuring that your beneficiaries receive their inheritances. Should your estate go through probate, the executor is charged with overseeing this process or appointing a legal representative to manage it on their behalf.

Executors may receive compensation from the estate, which varies based on state laws and estate values. It’s common for executors who are close relatives or friends, particularly those who stand to inherit, to forgo compensation for their services.

How Do I Choose an Executor?

Choosing an executor doesn’t require expertise in finance or law; many appoint their spouse or an adult child based on their trustworthiness, diligence, and integrity. The selected individual should be capable of effective communication and be well-organized. Ideally, this person would be in close proximity and acquainted with your financial matters, simplifying tasks such as mail collection and record management.

Someone poised to inherit from you may also be a suitable choice due to a vested interest in the diligent handling of your affairs. You have the legal right to choose any person who isn’t a minor or a convicted felon to be your executor, although some states place limitations on those living out of state.

Ensure the chosen executor consents to this role; they are free to decline or resign at any point. In such a case, an alternate executor may step in, or the court will appoint a replacement.

Must an Executor Hire a Lawyer?

While being an executor is demanding and requires attention to detail, it doesn’t necessarily mean one must have a legal background. If assets are to be processed through the probate court, the executor often needs to manage paperwork, typically without requiring a court appearance.

Executors who are primary beneficiaries dealing with common assets such as a house or bank accounts, and who are armed with clear instructions and resources, may capably handle the probate process without legal aid.

Nevertheless, if the estate is large or complex, has significant taxes, or potential disputes are looming, legal counsel may be advised. Our firm, Goldberg & Goldberg, offers two ways to assist executors:

  1. Retain us for legal guidance on specific questions, document review, and estate tax preparation.
  2. Entrust us with the entirety of the probate process, while still remaining involved in crucial decision-making —our team can tackle the entire ordeal for you.

Rest assured, fees for such legal services are drawn from the estate, and while they can vary, we at Goldberg & Goldberg are committed to transparency and fairness in our billing.

Can an Executor Get Additional Help?

Yes, executors can seek help outside of legal counsel. This assistance could come from the probate court clerks, who are equipped to address procedural inquiries (excluding legal advice); certain tasks could be best managed by an accountant or appraiser. For preparing documents, executors might engage experienced nonlawyer document preparers with sound references.

At Goldberg & Goldberg, we are here to support you through every stage of selecting an executor and navigating estate administration. For further advice or to take advantage of our Free Consultation, please contact us at (301) 654-5757. Your peace of mind is our priority.

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