Choosing an Executor

The primary responsibilities of an executor are to manage the property of an estate, pay outstanding debts and taxes of the estate, and distribute the remaining estate assets to the beneficiaries. This is a simplified explanation of the role of an executor. In reality, it can be extremely detailed and complex while extremely important to properly carry out all duties. When choosing an executor of an estate, many will simply list a close friend or loved one. While this may work out in some cases, it is often best to look outside your inner circle to choose an executor that will best serve your estate and the beneficiaries of your estate.

What Should I Consider When Choosing an Executor?

First and foremost, Rhode Island has legal requirements for who you choose as an executor, including:

  • The individual must be at least 18 years old.
  • The individual must be of sound mind.
  • The individual must not have any felony convictions.
  • The individual must either be a resident of Rhode Island, or, if he or she is not a resident, the executor must appoint someone who is a Rhode Island resident to act as a resident agent. The resident agent will be responsible for accepting legal papers on behalf of the estate.

Above and beyond these basic legal requirements for an executor, it is a good idea to really take a look at the tasks the executor will be responsible for after you pass. These responsibilities include:

  • Filing an inventory of the estate with the court;
  • Filing your final income tax return;
  • Paying outstanding debts and taxes;
  • Managing and protecting the property of the estate; and
  • Notifying beneficiaries, potential beneficiaries, creditors, and potential creditors that probate proceedings have been initiated.

These tasks can be extremely complex depending on the nature of your estate. The executor should be knowledgeable about how to provide proper notice to creditors and beneficiaries. The executor should also be detail-oriented and organized as well as have the ability to navigate the probate process. An ability to handle money and work with numbers are invaluable qualities to have in an executor. Additionally, to avoid conflicts of interest, it is a good idea to select an executor who has nothing to benefit from how you distribute your estate. For all of these reasons, some find it best to hire a trust and estate attorney or other professional to assume the role of executor of the estate.

Protecting The Best Interests of You and Your Loved Ones Through Careful Estate Planning

The estate planning process is extremely important and filled with details that require thorough attention in order to secure the best future for you and your family. The PALUMBO LAW team is here to provide you with sound legal counsel at every turn of the estate planning process. Contact PALUMBO LAW today.