Deciding to create a Last Will and Testament or trust is in your best interests as well as those of your beneficiaries’, and your final decision on who will act as executor is one of the most important choices you will have to make during this process. Here are some tips from estate planning attorneys in New Jersey for choosing an executor who will do the best job:
- Know the role: Knowing what is expected of an executor is an important factor in making your decision. Executors are responsible for filing court papers to start the process to probate a will, taking inventory of the whole estate, paying the necessary debts and taxes, notifying agencies of the death, preparing and filing tax returns and finally, distributing assets to beneficiaries. Depending on your will, these can be fairly simple or highly complex tasks, and the executor will need the time and the know-how to manage the process successfully.
- Age and health factors: While life is uncertain for everyone, it makes sense to choose an executor who will likely be healthy and able enough to perform the role. For example, one of your grown children may be a better candidate than your spouse.
- Character: The ideal executor should be honest, well organized and good at communicating with others. They should also be fairly neutral to avoid relationship complications and favoritism that can lead to disputes, family fights and your will being contested. For this reason, people often choose a professional like an estate planning attorney or someone who isn’t a named beneficiary of the will, allowing the process to be seen as partial and unbiased.
- Location: As with all legal proceedings, probate will occur within the local court system, so your executor must be able to appear in court and file papers as well as inventory property and check the deceased’s mail easily. Someone who lives halfway across the country will find it difficult to fulfill these demands, especially since the probate process can be significantly delayed over a period of months.
- Legal criteria: In addition to your personal preferences, there are some legal criteria that must also be adhered to. Your executor must be over the age of 18 and have a clean criminal record. In the State of New Jersey, an out of state executor must also post a bond to ensure the estate against wrongful use.
Legal advice and Last Will and Testament Administration in New Jersey
At Sedita, Campisano & Campisano, we can provide you with expert legal advice and personal guidance during the process of creating a will and choosing an executor.
In addition, our attorneys can also assist you with all aspects of your estate plan, from drawing up your Last Will and Testament to Living Trusts, medical directives and Power of Attorney documents. For more information on setting up or changing an estate plan, please contact us at the law firm of Sedita, Campisano & Campisano, LLC in New Jersey today.