Even amidst the painful lessons of the pandemic, most Americans still don’t have a will, and correspondingly, have not designated anyone to attend to their affairs upon death. Legal experts share insights to spark action and alleviate heartache.
Who Needs A Will?
All adults! HUFFPOST offers this summation of what making a will accomplishes: “Your last will and testament is one of the most important legal documents that you will ever make. It allows you to direct where you want your property, guardianship and debts to go after you die, and allows you to appoint an executor to act out your wishes.” Results of a Caring.Com survey from 2020 indicate that two out of three adults do not have a The top reasons for not having one were cited as procrastination and a belief that assets were insufficient. However, as Walny Legal Group points out:
“The fact of the matter is that almost everyone over the age of 18 needs some estate planning documents,” he said. “It may not be anything fancy, but having documents can spare your family a lot of financial and emotional suffering at a time that may already be trying.”
Why An Executor?
When you make a will, you will appoint an executor to administer your affairs, in accordance with the law, upon your death. In naming an executor, keep in mind that it is not a ceremonial duty. Make sure you appoint someone who can commit the time. Ideally, you will be able to communicate both your intentions and pragmatics about where to find essential documents, passwords, etc., to your executor. For examples of You may find these examples of the kinds of tasks your executor will need to take on helpful, as you consider who to appoint.
Though the process differs a little bit in each state, generally, executors begin their duties by filing the death certificate with an original copy of the will in probate court. A letter of testamentary is then issued, which officially recognizes the executor, enabling actions to be take on behalf of the estate. Executors are fiduciaries, and as such are legally responsible for protecting the interests of the estate and beneficiaries. That’s why fiduciary bonds, such as executor bonds can be helpful—and are sometimes even required. Essentially, the bond guarantees that the executor will carry out all duties in accordance with the law. Colonial Surety is here to help executors in any state quickly obtain their required bonds—and avoid probate delays. At Colonial, the steps to obtaining executor and other bonds are quick and easy: get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter the payment method. Instantly print or e-file the bond right from anywhere—even probate court. Obtain Executor Bonds Here.
Avoid Naming Multiple Executors
Remember, executors have to make decisions as they proceed through the probate process. That’s why the advice of many estate planning executors, including Alice Choi, of Novick & Associates, is to avoid naming all your children in an effort to be kind and fair:
“You should definitely just have one [executor]. One is best and then have alternate executors. A lot of testators think in fairness, they want to make all of their children responsible for administering the estate, and it’s a really bad idea. There are a lot of arguments. You have to have everybody agree on something. If you have a house and you want to sell the estate assets, obviously some kids will be like, ‘No, it should remain in the family. I don’t want to sell. How much should it sell for?’ Whether you should prep the house before it sells. Little disagreements that inevitably turn into family in-fighting and there are going to be two sides and two factions. Not everybody gets along and all those things come out.”
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