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Wills: Appointing an executor deserves careful consideration

Estate planning is a crucial yet challenging task. Advisors in New York discourage people from leaving the drafting of wills and establishing trusts until they have reached middle age. Although many see it as a daunting task, debilitating or even fatal injuries can occur at any age, and being prepared is crucial. One of the tasks that needs careful consideration involves appointing an executor for the estate.

An executor serves as the legal representative of the testator, and such an appointment is subject to the court's approval. The executor will locate and oversee all the assets upon the testator's death. The probate court will require a list of assets that include bank accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, stocks and bonds, jewelry, and other valuable items. The probate administration of real estate property falls under the state in which it is located. All other assets fall under the deceased person's state of residence at the time of his or her death.

Debts and taxes must be paid from the estate, and any creditor who wants to file a claim against the estate must do so within the limited period. If the executor rejects an application for payment, the creditor can file a claim in probate court where the judge will determine whether it is valid. The executor also has the duty of filing the deceased person's income tax returns. Once all debts and taxes have been addressed, the court will authorize the distribution of the balance of the estate among the beneficiaries.

Choosing whom to appoint as an executor is not a task to be taken lightly. Many people in New York prefer to seek legal counsel before making such an important decision. Some appoint their estate planning attorneys as executors because they already have a relationship of trust. The lawyer can answer any questions about wills, trusts and executors, and explain the importance of making the right choice.

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