Galloway and Collens, PLLC

Importance of choosing the right executor

Many people may think that if they have completed a comprehensive estate plan that once they die things will be taken care of for them. While estate planning is very important, an estate administration process will still be necessary following a Michigan resident's death.

During the estate administration process, estate complexities will be handled. The estate needs to pay its debts, its tax responsibilities, distribute assets and work through the probate court. There may be decisions that need to be made during this process that obviously cannot be made by the decedent. Instead, these decisions are usually made by an executor.

The estate's executor is responsible for making all the financial and legal decisions that need to be made from the time a person dies until the estate is settled. These decisions include determining tax liability and paying taxes, distributing assets to the estate's beneficiaries and paying any debts accumulated by the estate. On average, an estate takes one to two years to be settled, but can take years if litigation arises, the executor will be in charge during this whole period.

Experts say that people should make sure they have carefully chosen their executor. This decision can affect how smoothly the estate administration process goes. People should consider their spouse first, and then any relatives with legal or financial backgrounds. Experts also warn that people should list alternative executors in case their first pick is not available or able to act as executor. If people fail to pick an executor, Michigan judges will pick for the person. The court's pick may not always be the person best suited for the job.

In order to make an executor's job easier, experts advise people to have their affairs in order. Their estate planning documents should clearly state their intentions and people should make sure their beneficiaries know what to expect.

Source: Daily Finance, "Who Should You Ask to Be Executor of Your Estate?," Michele Lerner, Oct. 13, 2013

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