One of the most important parts of estate planning is choosing the right executor. This person will have the legal responsibility to manage the estate. Duties may include filing all necessary tax documents, consulting with attorneys, obtaining valuations for estate assets and possibly resolving family disputes.
An executor can expect to be responsible for an estate for at least two years. The time may actually be longer and comes to an end when all expenses and liabilities have been resolved, estate assets have been distributed and the appropriate tax authorities have accepted all final tax documents.
The person selected as executor has to be capable of bearing many responsibilities and be able to pay close attention to details. It may be preferable for the person to have some experience consulting with financial professionals as they will be offering guidance regarding the executor's responsibilities.
The age of the executor is also important as this person will not only need the maturity to handle the role but also be able to outlive the owner of the estate. The person chosen as executor should be aware of the owner's values and be familiar with the unique circumstances of the family.
While having sole executors is the standard, it is also common to have a member of the family serve in the role of co-executor. With this type of arrangement, it is advisable to require that both parties are in agreement when certain decisions have to be made, a mandate that can be stipulated in the will.
An attorney who practices estate administration and probate law may consider a client's plans for their assets after they die and recommend certain strategies for minimizing estate taxes and avoiding the probate process. Additional services may include assisting with creating wills and trusts.