In some cases, a person will name an executor in a last will and testament without actually informing the named executor of their role and duties. While this does not make the will invalid, it can make matters complicated for that person, especially if they do not have the time or willingness to take on that role. Take the time to discuss your estate with your executor prior to your passing, as doing so can ensure that your wishes are carried out properly and that your beneficiaries do not experience unnecessary delay and expense.
What Tasks and Obligations Will Be Expected of the Executor
First off, you should discuss what being an executor for your estate will entail, as it can be a complex series of tasks. The executor will need to work with the probate court overseeing your estate – and potentially a probate attorney as well who will represent your estate – to ensure that all property is accounted for and transferred to the correct beneficiaries in accordance with your will, while also paying off outstanding debts to creditors and meeting other legal requirements.
The Location of the Will and Other Testamentary Instruments
While the location of the will may seem like an obvious matter, many people fail to inform their executor where their will is being stored, especially if changes or additions have been made to the will over the years. Ensure that your executor is always kept up-to-date and informed on the whereabouts of your latest will, codicils, and any other testamentary instruments (for example, a trust).
The Meaning of any Potentially Ambiguous Statements in Your Will
The provisions of your will may seem obvious to you, but it will not necessarily be that way for your executor. For example “my car” might refer to any number of vehicles, and a bequeath to “John Smith” could also cause confusion. Make sure your executor understands what your will means.
The Location of Your Assets
Listing your assets clearly is one thing, but save your executor the trouble of having to search for these assets, whether they be personal property such as jewelry or financial accounts held with various entities. Give your executor a clear description of the location of assets as well as contact information and necessary credentials to obtain access to property held with other parties.
The Identity and Location of Beneficiaries
Similarly, make sure your executor has a clear understanding of who your beneficiaries and where they can be found, providing him or her with current mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and any other information necessary to identify and locate beneficiaries.
Issues Related to Outstanding Debts
Because your executor will be responsible for paying your outstanding debts, help him or her understand the existence of those debts (which are generally not listed in a will), how to contact the creditors, and what assets should be used to pay off the debts.
The Identity of Estate Planning Professionals Who Can Assist the Executor
If there are other estate planning professionals you would like the executor to work with in handling all matters related to your estate, such as a probate attorney, make the executor aware of these persons as well and provide any necessary instruction regarding working with them.
Create a Will or Trust With a Pasadena Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning and probate attorney Christopher B. Johnson, located in Pasadena, California, has years of experience in all aspects of estate planning, and works with clients from all walks of life to create estate planning tools that reflect their needs and those of their beneficiaries. To request an immediate consultation, contact him today at (877) 755-9178.