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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

Sacramento Estate Planning Tip: Confirm that the Executor of the Estate Is Up for the Job

October 22, 2011

Estate planning can be difficult for anyone, but in some ways, the executor of the estate ends up with the hardest job. It is important to talk with your Sacramento area estate planning lawyer to determine if your chosen executor is right for the task. He or she can help clear up some of the confusion that is associated with the job and help you determine who is the best choice.

The executor of the estate has an important role to play after your death. He or she is primarily responsible for the legal proceedings that take place. Some of these are tedious but not necessarily too difficult, such as making calls to banks, getting copies of the death certificate dispersed, etc. On the other hand, there are aspects of the job that can get quite complicated. The Wall Street Journal has a few things to say on the subject in this article by Arden Dale.

For example, the executor of the estate must administer your will through the probate process in cases where trusts were not set up in advance. This legal process can take years, and the executor must make court appearances, file paperwork, and otherwise be available to do a multitude of tasks.

For these reasons, it is important to work with your Sacramento estate planning lawyer to determine who has the organizational and multi-tasking skills necessary to engage in this process. While it may seem like an honor to ask a friend or family member to take on the executor role, you may really be asking for a great deal of time and effort on his or her part.

The executor of the estate also needs to be able to keep a cool head. The death of a loved one, not to mention the promise of an inheritance, can bring out the worst in people. Every time there is a challenge to the will, the executor will be in the middle of it. If he or she is too closely involved, this can have a negative effect on the overall outcome. When the distribution of money or family memorabilia is done, there may still be some hurt feelings and damaged relationships involved. Can the executor of your estate handle that?

Finally, you and your estate planning lawyer in Sacramento should approach the potential executor and ask him or her if the job is accepted. Far too often, we see family members who are surprised that they’ve been named as an executor, and they are woefully unprepared for the task. Getting the person’s approval in advance allows him or her to fully understand what the job entails so that your estate can be administered in the best way possible.

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Heather was wonderful. She explained, in understandable terms, why it is important to establish an estate plan. I never realized what would happen, without a plan in place, and we could not bear the thought of our child in arms of absolute strangers while the court system sorted out his future.

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