Who should be my executor? Over the last several months, I have written about how to avoid probate for privacy reasons. Due to some situations I am currently dealing with, I now think it is a good time for you to know how important it is who you choose to be the executor or executrix of your estate. As stated in previous articles, if you do not have a will, you die intestate, and the state will appoint an executor/executrix or administrator of your estate.
In each of the situations I am currently dealing with, the wills were made several years ago without any updates. The executor might have appeared at one time to be very competent in handling financial and estate matters, but time has a way of changing things.
In one case, the executor was not a family member and never dealt with legal or financial matters before but was a friend of the deceased. He was named in the will as executor many years ago.
He did not have a copy of the will and it was 30 days after the death of the deceased before the will was found and submitted for probate. He hired his own lawyer to help him probate the estate as he had no earthly idea what he was supposed to do. This caused an undue expense to the estate.
The other situation has to do with three heirs that do not like each other. The deceased mother left one of her daughters to be executrix of her estate. As punishment to the other two heirs, this executrix daughter has moved in a very slow fashion.
There was some cash in the estate that the other two heirs could use for current expenses. They are claiming the executrix is spending money unnecessarily, thus reducing their share of the estate. They are also claiming the executrix is not securing the real or personal property and no accounting of such has been made.
As I told the other two heirs, you are going to need to get a lawyer and the probate clerk involved with this as my real estate and auctioneer licenses, does not permit me to practice law even though I have some knowledge in these areas. There are many other examples I could cite but time and space will not allow me to do so.
That is why I am suggesting you give some serious though as to who you designate as the executor/executrix of your estate and review it yearly or more often. I am also thinking of some divorce situations where wills were never updated after the divorce. (Rik, did you hear that?)
I know this sounds crazy, but if you designate an executor/executrix of your estate, make sure that person knows it and has a copy of the will or knows where it is located, i.e., at home, lock-box at bank, etc.
That person you designate should also start getting familiar with the probate process even though you feel your death may be years into the future. Do they know how to initiate probate and where it should be initiated? As mentioned above, do they know where the will is located? Will they need a lawyer? How are interested persons notified? Do they know the time limit for notifying creditors and how to respond to creditor’s claims? Who files the state and federal tax returns of the deceased? At what point can the estate be closed out and assets distributed to the heirs?
These are just a few things you need to start thinking about as you either have a will made up or update an existing one. I would sit down with your designated executor/executrix and discuss these matters now. There is some good information on the internet for NC Estate Procedure. Just Google NC Probate Law and click any of the suggested links.
If we can assist you in planning the distribution of your assets, both real and personal, call us at 252-257-4822.