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Selecting the Executor or Executrix of your Estate

When clients retain the firm’s services for the preparation of estate work, many struggle with the selection of their Executor or Executrix. If you are struggling with who to appoint, this article may assist you in making your selection.

What Does It Mean To Be An Executor Or Executrix?
The person who holds this title is responsible for carrying out the wishes memorialized in the Will of a deceased person. An Executor is a man and an Executrix is a woman. Their powers come into effect upon the death of the person who appointed them to this position, and their powers cease upon the completion of all of the deceased person’s wishes.
If someone is appointed as your Power of Attorney while you are alive, their powers pass away with you upon your demise; they will not be a part of your probate process unless that same person is appointed as Executor or Executrix.

What Will My Executor or Executrix Be Responsible For?
While many people consider it a great honor to bestow the title of Executor or Executrix upon a loved one, and worry that someone may be offended if they are not chosen, the feeling of honor might disintegrate rapidly when the selected individual realizes the great responsibility that the Probate process entails.

An Executor or Executrix will have many responsibilities, including but not limited to:

  • Coordinating a funeral and paying all funeral expenses.
  • Making an appointment to be sworn in as Executor with the probate office of the county the deceased person passed away in.
  • Opening a bank account for the estate of the deceased.
  • Making an inventory of the property of the deceased.
  • Making an inventory of the debts of the deceased.
  • Paying taxes.
  • Preparing any real properties owned for sale.
  • Locating beneficiaries and distributing their shares of the estate.

Should an Executor take too long to carry out their responsibilities, fail to keep records that the estate was executed as stated in the Will, or carry them out incorrectly, there are legal consequences for doing so.
For more information about the probate process in Prince William County, visit (https://www.pwcgov.org/government/courts/circuit/Pages/Probate-Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx) Prince William County Probate’s Frequently Asked Questions page. There will be answers to many of your questions there.

How Should I Choose My Executor or Executrix?
You may select a friend, a family member, or you may opt to appoint a professional executor. The Executor or Executrix must be over eighteen and of sound mind. For convenience purposes, we recommend selecting one person who resides in the same state and general area that you do. While you could select an individual who lives out of state, or appoint multiple individuals to act jointly, for logistics purposes it is less burdensome to appoint one person who resides locally.
Whoever you choose should be organized and responsible, because they will have significant duties to accomplish. In the event that said duties are not carried out, there are legal ramifications.

When Should I Choose A Professional Executor?
If you leave very specific wishes, have any unique circumstances that complicate your estate, or significant assets to be divided, the services of a professional executor are recommended.
The Hopkins Law Firm does not offer professional probate services; however, we do have a referral for a professional executor for our clients who desire this service.

Summary
An Executor or an Executrix carries out the wishes memorialized in a deceased person’s Will. While selecting this individual may be an emotional decision for many clients, because of the duties associated with the execution of a Will, assigning this responsibility to a professional executor may make the probate process smoother for your loved ones.
Michelle Hopkins and her team at The Hopkins Law Firm are ready to assist clients in the preparation of estate work and in the selection of their Executor or Executrix. Please contact us today at 571-248-2210 to discuss your specific needs.

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