Investopedia’s recent article, “The Executor’s Checklist: 7 Tasks Before They Die,” reminds us that being executor of an estate means significant responsibility. It can be a daunting task, if you’re unprepared. Here are some simple steps to take while the testator is still alive to make the executor’s job easier.
- Make Sure You Know the Location of the Will and Other Estate Planning Documents. This is a no-brainer. It makes the executor’s job easier if the testator (the person who executed the Will) keeps the original Will, deeds, partnership documents, insurance policies, or other important papers in an agreed-upon spot, with copies at a backup location.
- Retitle Accounts Where Appropriate. If the testator has a spouse, mostly like they want assets to flow directly through to the surviving spouse (if neither spouse has children outside the marriage) or to a trust, so retitle accounts appropriately.
- Make a List of the Testator’s Preferences. Another way to make things easy on the executor and the family is to include document your funeral preferences in writing.
- Draft a Possessions List and Their Recipients. A big issue that many executors overlook is distributing personal possessions that have little financial value but great sentimental value. Along with the testator, an executor can create a list for the dispersal of personal items, as well as a system of distribution. The testator can include their reasoning for who got what gift. Sharing the list with those involved may also eliminate some hurt feelings. An organized dispersal can make an executor’s job easier and help with issues of fairness.
- Create an Annual Accounting Sheet and Updating Schedule. If the testator keeps track of the estate electronically on an annual basis, the executor will have a good idea of assets when it’s required. This e-document will also decrease the time spent searching for that jewelry the testator gave to a granddaughter or tracking down the funds that were supposedly in a now-empty investment account.
- Create a Sealed Online Accounts Document. An executor should also have a record of the testator’s online presence to deactivate accounts. This document simplifies work for the executor.
- Meet the Relevant Professionals. Executors should be familiar with the accountant, estate planning attorney and other professionals the testator uses. They may have further advice specific to the testator’s situation.
Preparation will greatly decease the odds of any complications when carrying out your duties as an executor. Take these actions while the testator is still alive to help make certain that the executor carries out the testator’s wishes.
Reference: Investopedia (July 11, 2019) “The Executor’s Checklist: 7 Tasks Before They Die”
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