One of the most common questions that estate planning attorneys address in the initial stages of the process deals with identifying an executor or executors. These are the individuals who are named in your plan as having the responsibility of and authority for clearing up any of your outstanding financial obligations after your death and distributing assets according to your wishes. Failing to name an executor means one will be appointed by the court.
It should be no surprise that most individuals in New York choose to make the choice themselves. The designation reflects the testator's or testatrix's confidence in the integrity of the executor. However, integrity doesn't ensure the person has the organizational and communication skills, or the time and patience to effectively navigate sometimes complicated probate processes. Fortunately, if estate proceeds are sufficient, it is possible to enlist the help of an experienced attorney.
The character and abilities of your personal representative aren't the only things to be aware of when planning your estate. Keeping in mind that you won't be around to help point them in the right direction to find all the assets you held. You can make life easier for your designee by getting your matters well organized and centralized. Key documents that the executor will need at hand for easier administration include:
- The will
- Trust papers
- Bank account records
- Business interest papers
- Life insurance policies
- Social Security information
- Usernames and passwords for online accounts
- Descriptions and locations of portable valuables
Many see being named executor of an estate as an honor. To be sure that whoever you name for the post does not feel cast adrift, approach the planning process as if it is going to be a team effort you lead, even if you're not there.