No one likes to think about their own death. But the truth is, the more thought and preparation you put into your estate plan, the easier it will be for the loved ones you leave behind. This is especially true for your executor, who has the most difficult job of all. By leaving them a clear and thorough plan to follow, they can focus more on mourning your loss and supporting your family, and less on the headache and stress of managing your estate.
What does an executor do?
An executor has many responsibilities that take effect from the moment you pass away and they accept the role. That’s why it’s important to choose someone you know will carry out their duties in a responsible way. Being named executor shouldn’t be a surprise for them – you should ask them if they’d be willing to serve while you are still alive, so that they can prepare.
The first duty of your executor is to pay off all debts and taxes associated with your estate. That means that they’ll have to track down and catalog your assets and debts in order to understand exactly what they’re dealing with, and then make the proper payments.
Then, they’ll distribute whatever is left of your assets according to your will. This part can be straightforward if the will is clear. If the will is ambiguous or incomplete, then sometimes family members of the deceased will bring lawsuits to challenge the will in order to try to get a bigger share of the estate. That can cause quite a lot of stress for the executor to have to deal with.
How to make things easier
Have an open and honest discussion with your executor about the state of your financial affairs. Make a list of all of your debts, including contact information and amounts owed. Make a thorough list of all of your assets. Remember to include your intangible assets, such as your bank accounts, your retirement accounts, and your investments and stocks.
It could be a good idea to show your will to your executor, if you are comfortable doing so. That way they have a good idea of what you want for your estate, and they’ll have an opportunity to ask questions and clarify ambiguities while you are still alive. If you would rather not show them your will, at least make sure they know where it is, so they don’t have to hunt for it.
Dealing with the death of a loved one is one of the hardest experiences any of us have to face in this life. By making the proper preparations, you can make the process much easier for your executor.