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Estate planning basics: What is an executor?

If you haven’t thought much about estate planning before now, you may be curious (but embarrassed to ask) about basic information. For instance, you have probably heard about naming an “executor” of your will and overall estate plan.

But do you know what that means? And would you feel comfortable asking someone to fulfill this role for you or willing to do the same for someone else? It is an important position, to be sure, but it is also less scary than the title makes it sound.

An executor is the person appointed to essentially wrap up final affairs related to your estate. Sometimes, the job is referred to as “personal representative” or “executrix” (if you want to specifically refer to a female executor using a slightly outdated term).

The person you appoint as your executor will likely need to:

  • Collect your assets and distribute them according to your will
  • Pay any creditors, as appropriate
  • File a final tax return for you
  • Work with your estate planning attorney to complete the above tasks

When choosing who to appoint as your executor, you will obviously want to choose someone who is trustworthy, organized and responsible. But if your intended executor has reservations about the appointment, you can reassure him or her that your estate planning attorney can serve as a resource for questions they may have.

Whether you are asking someone to be your executor or have been asked to be someone else’s, it’s important to remember that this is a position of honor. It demonstrates a profound level of trust.

Source: NW Times, “Estate Planning: What does an executor do?” Christopher W. Yugo, Oct. 18, 2014

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