When you first hired an attorney and crafted your estate plan, your intentions were probably to ensure a smooth distribution of your estate to your loved ones and minimize the possibility of problems arising – such as will challenges and lawsuits. Whoever you named as your executor will have the hardest job of all – managing your estate. There are a few key things you can do now to make their job much easier and less stressful once you’re gone, while also making probate litigation less likely.
Make sure they understand their duties
Being an executor is a huge job, especially if you have significant and complex assets in your estate. Your executor will be responsible for gathering all of your assets, paying all of your debts, distributing your property according to your will and standing in for you in any lawsuits against your estate. It should not be a surprise for them to find out that you named them as your executor.
As such, make sure that they know what being your executor entails. That way, if they don’t feel that they can handle it, you still have time to name a new one. If your executor decides to resign and your document does not provide a process for the appointment of a secondary executor the court will name a new executor for you, which may not be the person you intended.
In addition, having this conversation while you are still around gives them the chance to ask any questions they want and to clarify any ambiguities in your estate plan, so that they know exactly what you want them to do.
Keep your estate organized for them
When you pass away, your executor will likely be grieving your loss. It would be best if they are not scrambling to track down your bank account numbers, passwords and other information that they will need to manage your estate.
Make sure that all of your assets, debts and other essential information are kept in an organized manner and in a place that is easy to find. Don’t forget to list intangible assets such as investments and retirement accounts that can be hard to track down.
Part of the purpose of estate planning is to make the transfer of your estate simple for your heirs. By taking the proper steps now, you can help to make the probate process as smooth as possible for your executor and the rest of your family.