Everyone who owns property needs a will. If a valid will is lacking, a probate estate must be distributed according to the unbending laws of intestacy—a distribution that may bear little relationship to actual family needs or desires.
Unfortunately, many individuals leave an unrecognized weak point in their wills: spouses, relatives or business associates are designated to fill what is presumably the mostly “honorary” post of executor or personal representative.
In reality, estate settlement involves a demanding, complex set of tasks—and the results, for better or worse, depend upon the experience, skills and judgment of those you designate to handle the job.
The executor or personal representative you name in your will is responsible for safeguarding the assets of your estate, for paying proper debts, for contesting improper claims, for collecting sums owed the estate, and for filing estate and income tax returns. Your executor must decide what to sell (and when) to pay taxes and estate expenses and what to hold for distribution to your beneficiaries or to trusts that you establish for their benefit.
In less complicated times, people relied on close relatives or friends to settle their estates. Today, naming an inexperienced executor is not only shortsighted but also potentially costly. The characteristics of an ideal executor or personal representative include:
- Financial responsibility
- Unquestioned integrity and freedom from personal bias
- Patience and sympathy
- Experience in caring for all types of assets and holdings
- Informed investment judgment
- Familiarity with special tax questions that arise when an estate is settled
- Immortality (What if your executor dies before you do, or before completing the settlement of your estate?)
We provide specialized skills in all phases of estate administration. As your executor, we’re sure to be on hand when needed, and no relative or family friend could hope to match our experience and facilities. Yet our fees for estate settlement are no greater than inexperienced individuals might be entitled to receive.
To schedule an appointment, click the Contact Us button or call today at 1.800.894.6900, option 6
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