Time marches on, and you may suddenly find yourself at or near your long-awaited retirement. If so, and you still do not have an estate plan in place, now is the time to protect your loved ones through a comprehensive estate plan.
The first order of business is to name an executor. This will be an important position: Basically, the person you choose will serve as chief administrator of your estate.
This person will have legal responsibility for protecting your assets until the completion of the probate process, then take charge of distributing the assets among your heirs. Look for someone you trust, someone who has sound judgment. If he or she has a good head for business, all the better. Consider the age of the person you choose as executor: Obviously this individual should outlive you.
Your chief administrator will inventory the assets of the estate, pay your debts and final taxes and eventually distribute the assets. It will be important that your executor not rush the process of managing your estate because if any legal steps are missed, he or she could be personally liable.
You can help your executor by providing him or her with a list of assets and where they can be located. Included might be bank accounts, insurance documents, real property, collections and their valuation, business interests and perhaps trust documents. Your executor would also appreciate having an accounting of your monthly income and expenses and the location of contracts, agreements and deeds.
The qualities you want in your executor would include a willingness to seek professional help when necessary. An accountant could help with tax matters and an estate planning attorney would be able to assist with the many details the administrator will face, including smooth and successful navigation of the probate process. When you choose someone with common sense as well as good business sense, you can rest easy knowing he or she will manage your estate properly after you pass on.