Has Anyone Ever Been An Executor Of Estate?

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lisab
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I've been asked to be the executor for my parents' estate. For those who aren't aware: an executor is the person in charge of administering a will.

No, they aren't off-the-wall wealthy, they have just a 'normal' size nest egg. I've looked over the basics of what is required of an executor, and I'm willing to do it. My folks are *very* organized people, and their wishes are quite clear. They're both dot-every-i, cross-every-t types. They've used a lawyer to get their estate in order.


They're coming for a visit in May, and one of the things they want to do is brief me on what their wishes are and what my duties will be. What sort of questions should I ask them?

Has anyone ever been an executor? What are the pitfalls? Anything I should know about beforehand?
 

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you should know that money brings out the worst side of people. you might learn some ugly truths about some relatives.
 
lisab
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you should know that money brings out the worst side of people. you might learn some ugly truths about some relatives.
Yes, I know that's a possibility. It's not a big issue, I can deal with that kind of difficulty - in fact I think that's why they chose me.

But hopefully it's a moot point, since my parents' wishes are clearly spelled out. I won't be making any decisions...I'm just the messenger. If they can't deal with how things are, I'll tell them to consult a Ouija board :biggrin:.
 
jtbell
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My parents made me the executor of their estate, which turned out to be a very simple task because they set up a family trust. After my father died, I became co-trustee with my mother, and when she died a few years ago, I became sole trustee, with the simple instructions (specified in the trust agreement) to divide everything half and half between my brother and myself, her only direct descendants.

At the end, my mother lived in a retirement home, had no property except the furniture etc. in her apartment, and all her money was in the form of CDs at various banks. My brother and I agreed to donate the furniture etc. to her church, to be sold at their annual fundraising sale. I redeemed the CDs, which was no problem because they were all made out in the name of the trust, and wrote checks to my brother and myself. Because of the trust arrangement, I didn't have to deal with probate court.

My wife had to deal with her mother's estate. There was no trust arrangement, but she was the only descendant and heir, so the process was pretty straightforward. It just took a bit of time for the paperwork to go through probate court.
 
lisab
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My parents made me the executor of their estate, which turned out to be a very simple task because they set up a family trust. After my father died, I became co-trustee with my mother, and when she died a few years ago, I became sole trustee, with the simple instructions (specified in the trust agreement) to divide everything half and half between my brother and myself, her only direct descendants.

At the end, my mother lived in a retirement home, had no property except the furniture etc. in her apartment, and all her money was in the form of CDs at various banks. My brother and I agreed to donate the furniture etc. to her church, to be sold at their annual fundraising sale. I redeemed the CDs, which was no problem because they were all made out in the name of the trust, and wrote checks to my brother and myself. Because of the trust arrangement, I didn't have to deal with probate court.
I think that's exactly what their lawyer set up for them. I'll be sure to ask about it, thanks jt.
 
jtbell
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With a trust arrangement like ours, the key thing is to get multiple copies of the death certificate(s). My brother lives in the same town where our mother was when she died, so he took care of that and sent them to me. To each bank, I had to send a copy of the death certificate, with a notarized letter from me, asking them to send me the money in the trust's account. I then mailed the check to the bank that had my mother's main checking account (which was also in the name of the trust), and wrote checks from that account to my brother and me.

When everything was done, I closed that checking account, which turned out to be not trivial because my mother had a safe deposit box at that bank. My brother had a key to the box, so he had emptied it, but I had to close it in person before I could close the checking account. That's why I made the road trip out West that I documented in a series of posts here.
 
AlephZero
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They're coming for a visit in May, and one of the things they want to do is brief me on what their wishes are and what my duties will be.
Just a warning that there is a possible conflict of interest there. As executor you are responsible for administering the will, not doing what the surviving parent thinks the deceased parent wanted to happen.

Of course if they have planned everything together and got good legal advice drafting their wills there shouldn't be any surprises, but (without meaning to sound callous!) you won't run into any problems arguing with the dead people involved, only with living ones who feel hard done by for some reason.

People do change their minds and update their wills, and sometimes they do it behind other people's backs. Just because everything looks simple now, it might not be so simple when the time comes. But of course you probably know your parents better than anybody else does, so it's up to you in the end.
 
alt
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I've been asked to be the executor for my parents' estate. For those who aren't aware: an executor is the person in charge of administering a will.

No, they aren't off-the-wall wealthy, they have just a 'normal' size nest egg. I've looked over the basics of what is required of an executor, and I'm willing to do it. My folks are *very* organized people, and their wishes are quite clear. They're both dot-every-i, cross-every-t types. They've used a lawyer to get their estate in order.


They're coming for a visit in May, and one of the things they want to do is brief me on what their wishes are and what my duties will be. What sort of questions should I ask them?

Has anyone ever been an executor? What are the pitfalls? Anything I should know about beforehand?
Yes - I am at the tail end of completing the winding up of my deceased parents estate.

One MAJOR tip I can give you, is do not rely on friendly arrangements between siblings on anything, particularly that of the occupation of a family home or investment property, by any one of those siblings. BIG mistake, with very expensive, acrimonious consequences.

Have everything evidenced in legal documents. Also, do consise monthly reports in writing, to all siblings, about everything that you are doing.
 
rhody
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Lisa,

I was executor to my Mom's small home, I did an on-line will had it notarized and witnessed in her home state, the terms were very straightforward since I was the only child and my Dad had already passed. When she passed, you need to get a personal representative document with a tax id (with you as personal representative) from the state where she passed. You will need a death certificate, and Original Will to present to the clerk of the court to be assigned as personal representative.

You can do this yourself, but I had a lawyer do it for me, there are a number of steps you need to take and every state may have unique requirements for what is required. The bottom line is it takes 3 to 6 weeks between the time you apply and when the document is signed by a judge and returned to you. My case was simple as far as the money aspect went, my Mom owed no bills and a probate notice was placed in the local newspaper once or twice a month for three months. Mom's medicare bill was huge but absorbed by medicare. If you do get small bills from credit cards, we are not talking thousands here, a simple written note to the creditor's explaining you are not responsible for their debts with a copy of the death certificate is sufficient. You only have 90 days to view either parent's medicare account online after death and once it is closed it can be a pain to reconcile bills so keep that in mind.

A second more expensive way to go is with a trust, there are many types, and my wife's family used an irrevocable trust. This costs more and my financial advisor and tax attorney need to be involved. I would only recommend a trust if there are considerable assets to shelter. To date, we have had no negative issues to report so it was worth it and assets after death are NOT subject to probate, or haggling by people not named in it, it is secret and can never be disclosed, unless you choose to do so. One more thing, if there are other siblings and even if you have a will, any sibling who feels so inclined can contest it, and it can take 2 years or more to dispute in court and even then there are no guarantee's. If your parents assets exceed the states inheritance limit and you DO NOT establish a trust, then they are taxable when you liquidate them, you must pay the tax, Here in RI I think the limit is 850,000 and if there total net worth is one dollar over the limit, then the entire amount is taxable !!! However, if you have a trust, set up properly, that is NOT an issue, something to think about, You need to find out what if any inheritance laws exist in the state where your parents have the full time residence. Many people here have second homes in other states and list them as their primary residence to avoid the inheritance tax. There are rules of proof I won't get into here, but you need to be aware of them, ignorance is NO excuse.

If bad blood runs in your family, or the value of their total assets become taxable at death, then a trust is the only way to go. If your parent's wish, they can designate who gets what and if other siblings are locked out, they can NEVER see it. A will on the other hand is public record, siblings, relatives, creditors and real estate people, thieves can and do look them up and do, so be aware. Many peoples vacant homes are robbed this way.

One more thing, you will need to file one last federal and state tax form for the year that they passed away. I may think of more things to report and will add them, but this is a good start. I hope everyone in your family likes each other and gets along, it makes things so much easier. Good luck.

Rhody...
 
lisab
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Hopefully I won't have to deal with this for quite a long time (they're both in good health). But it's best to be aware of possible missteps. I will do a bit more homework, based on things I've read here.

I really appreciate the tips, everyone. Thanks :smile:!
 

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