If you choose to use a last will as your primary vehicle of asset transfer your estate is going to have to be probated. Many people are under the impression that the will is something that is only seen by family members, but the reality is that it is going to be examined by the probate court.
Aside from your heirs, there are other entities that may have a stake in the affairs of the estate such as creditors and the tax man. In addition, perhaps unfortunately not all families and blended families are on the same page after a loved one passes away. So the probate court provides supervision as the administration of the estate takes place, and it would also be the forum within which will challenges would take place.
When we use the term “administration of the estate” it sounds neat and tidy, but somebody actually has to do the legwork involved. This responsibility is undertaken by the executor, and you choose your executor when you draw up your will. If you were to fail to do so the court would be forced to appoint a personal representative to serve this role.
The executor must be a business savvy individual because he or she must take care of paying all the final bills, inventorying the assets, liquidating assets where appropriate, and ultimately preparing them for distribution to the heirs in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.
He or she is also going to have to bring in a probate attorney and in many cases a tax accountant, an appraiser or appraisers, and an estate liquidation company. Plus, the executor is the point of contact for anyone who is interested in how things are going so he or she must be a patient and diplomatic communicator.
Considering all the above, you can see how the choice of executor is an important one. There are professional executors who can be retained who have a thorough understanding of the probate process. You may want to consider going this route if you don’t know anyone who has the time and the skill set that it takes to effectively assume the role.