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Does your named executor understand their responsibilities?

We have all probably had at least one experience like the following: A friend asks you to do a favor in the near future. You are unclear on the details but it sounds easy enough, so you say yes. When the time comes to do the favor, you are overwhelmed at how time-consuming and complicated it is. You’d like to back out, but you already committed and your friend is counting on you.

Chances are good that you have experienced a situation like this, and that you don’t want to put someone else in the same predicament. Now, let's put this in the context of estate planning. Have you already asked someone to be executor or a trustee? If so, did you clearly explain what their responsibilities would be?

In many cases, individuals only think to include their attorney in the estate planning process. But if you have already determined who to name as executor, it might be highly beneficial for them to spend some time getting to know what their duties will entail and to ask questions about anything they don’t understand.

Remember that even if you draft an estate plan later in life, it may be years between the time that your named executor or trustee agrees to the position and the time that their duties are fulfilled. Therefore, the more knowledge they get up front, the better prepared they will be. It may also give you peace of mind to know that they can ask questions of you if they need to.

Acting as executor may not be rocket science, but it is certainly a bigger commitment than, say, picking someone up at the airport. Therefore, you may want to make sure that whoever you ask knows what they’re agreeing to ahead of time.

Source: Wealth Management, "Where There’s a Will, There’s an Executor," Hartley Goldstone, Jan. 8, 2014

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