Forbes magazine notes that one of the biggest myths about estate planning is that it is just for the wealthy. The truth is that estate planning is for everyone-regardless of their wealth-who desires to make sure their family is taken care of after they pass. Estate planning is also for everyone who wishes to make sure that their finances are protected if they suddenly become incapacitated. A second myth is that people in their twenties or thirties are too young for estate planning. Unfortunately, death and incapacity visit the young and old alike. Since no one knows when they might pass on, having a custom-tailored estate plan in place after you reach adulthood is advisable.
AARP observes that you are “a step ahead of the pack if you’ve created a will or trust.” However, you do not want to stumble at the finish line by naming the wrong person to be executor. The American Bar Association advises that one of the most important decisions you can make as part of your estate planning is who to name as the executor in charge of your estate. An executor is responsible for collecting estate assets, protecting estate property, preparing an estate inventory, paying valid estate claims and representing the estate when claims are made against it. Importantly, an executor is charged with making distributions to beneficiaries pursuant to the terms and conditions of the will.
Once you find a trustworthy person qualified to fulfill the duties of executor, the Huffington Post observes that you need to be sure to ask the person if they will agree to serve. Keep in mind that a person who did not realize that they were named in a will to be an executor might decline to serve and renounce the nomination. In that event-if you do not have an alternate executor named-it would be up to a court to choose an executor.
Once you have found a qualified person who is willing to be executor, it would be prudent to go over the financial details in your will and let him or her know where you keep your important documents and papers. Also be sure to let the executor know how to locate any assets you possess that may not be readily ascertainable.
People not to choose
Conversations magazine says that there are certain people you may wish to avoid selecting to be your executor. First, never select someone whom you believe is not up to the task of being the executor of your estate. If a spouse, son, daughter or dear friend is simply not qualified to be executor, selecting them based solely on their relationship to you could be a costly disaster for your estate and its beneficiaries. Second, do not choose an executor whom you suspect may not be able to handle conflicts among beneficiaries. An executor who lacks people skills could touch off litigation by inadvertently offending a disgruntled beneficiary.
Third, if the estate is complicated, or would necessitate running a business temporarily, do not select someone who you know is lacking in financial expertise or business savvy. Fourth, do not choose someone that you know to be disorganized. Dealing with paperwork-sometimes voluminous-is part and parcel of being a good executor.
Seeking legal assistance
If you have reached the decision that you need an estate plan, you should contact a Massachusetts attorney who handles estate planning as soon as possible.
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