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Choosing An Executor

For many individuals, preparing the details of an estate plan is a complex and challenging process.  Once decisions have been made and documents drafted, it is time to decide who is best suited to handle the estate administration duties.  This individual, the executor, will have the responsibility of carrying out the provisions set forth in the decedent’s will which include paying funeral expenses, taxes, medical expenses and debts, distributing property to heirs, transferring ownership or selling the decedent’s property, creating trusts and arranging the care and guardianship of minor children.

It’s often assumed that the role of executor should be handled by a surviving spouse or an adult child but it many cases, family members are not well suited for the task at hand.

Let’s consider the example of the Richards family.  Steven and Joan have been married for 40 years.  Steven initially considered naming his wife, Joan, as the Executor of his estate should he pass away before her.  However, throughout their marriage, Steven has always managed all the household finances and while Joan has only good intentions, she lacks the financial skills and experience necessary to handle the estate administration duties.  Additionally, as a surviving spouse, Joan would be grieving the loss of her husband which is the worst possible timeframe to be handling complicated financial matters.

Steven also considered naming one of his adult children, Sarah or Mark, to handle his estate administration but soon realized that they were not equipped to handle the responsibility.  Steven felt that neither Sarah nor Mark had the emotional maturity or financial savvy to take on the duties required of an executor.  Additionally, Steven didn’t want to place either of his children in a difficult position or burden them with added responsibility at the time of his death.

Based on his particular family situation, Steven ultimately decided to appoint his trusted financial advisor to be his Executor, knowing that he will work with a qualified attorney who specializes in estate administration.  Deciding to utilize a professional, be it a lawyer or trusted financial advisor to serve as executor will allow the Richards family, when the time comes, the time and space needed to process and grieve the loss of a family member.

Let a Fingeret Law attorney help you develop an estate plan, including who is best suited to carry out your wishes at the time of death.  To discuss your specific needs and to find out how a Pittsburgh estate administration lawyer can help you probate a will and administer an estate, please call us at Fingeret Law at 412-254-8533 or contact us online.