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By The Wyoming LLC Attorney Team

Jun 14, 2022

Executor Responsibilities

Estate Planning


Choosing the right executor for your estate is crucial in ensuring a smooth transition for your loved ones after your passing. This article outlines the selection process and the responsibilities of an executor in estate planning. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of regular will reviews to adapt to changing circumstances.

Organization and planning can greatly reduce the time and expenses your loved ones will bear settling your estate after you die. One of the first steps you should take is to choose an executor, referred to in some states as a personal representative.

Choosing the right executor can help to achieve an easier transition for your loved ones, alleviate a great deal of their stress and anxiety, and allow them to more easily grieve. Choose the wrong executor and it can cause more damage than just hurt feelings.

How to Choose an Executor

The executor you name is one of the most important choices you have to make when writing your last will & testament. This is because the person you name will have a great deal of responsibility.

After your death, your executor must take an inventory of all of your possessions and determine the total value of your estate. He or she must also prepare your final income tax return, pay any taxes due, settle your debts, and, finally, distribute the remaining assets to your beneficiaries.

Your executor can be your spouse, domestic partner, sibling, adult child, or friend. They technically do not need to have any special training, however, the person you name as your executor should be responsible enough to navigate the legal, tax, and financial implications of your estate and ask for help from professionals like lawyers, accountants, and financial advisers when they feel overwhelmed.

Keep in mind that you can also name a professional as your executor. Financial institutions, accounting firms, notaries, and lawyers often provide this type of service for an hourly fee or a fee based on the value of your estate.

Executor Requirements

The law requires the person you choose as your executor to be:

  1. 18 years of age or older;
  2. In good mental health; and
  3. Not legally incapacitated.

State laws differ, and it's essential to recognize these variations. In Colorado, for instance, there's no prohibition against individuals with felony convictions serving as executors.

Nor does the state prohibit individuals who reside outside the state from acting as an executor.

Nonetheless, it's worth noting that in Colorado, a probate court can potentially disqualify a prospective executor if they are deemed unsuitable, following a formal hearing.

Responsibilities of an Executor or Personal Representative

How can you ensure that you are choosing the best person to be your executor or personal representative? You can start by first considering the legal and fiduciary nature of the position.

In general, an executor is a fiduciary meaning that they must act in the best interest of your estate and its beneficiaries. As a fiduciary, your executor's duties will include:

  • Gathering the assets of the estate
  • Filing tax returns
  • Paying the estate's taxes and other debts
  • Settling business interests
  • Filing with the probate court if necessary
  • Distributing your assets to the intended beneficiaries

Be aware that your executor will also be required to sign court filings and other important documents throughout the probate process, which can last from a couple of months to a couple of years.

Therefore, you should consider choosing someone who is:

  • Responsible;
  • Trustworthy;
  • Comfortable working with professionals, such as lawyers and accountants; and
  • Not a procrastinator.

Other Considerations

Here are some other considerations to keep in mind when deciding upon an executor for your estate:

  • The person you choose should be someone you can trust to be honest and impartial. Your executor may have to mediate conflicts and must never give priority to his or her own interests or the interests of a particular beneficiary.
  • The location might make a big difference as well. An executor who lives far away from the probate court may encounter difficulties in performing the various duties that will be required of them.
  • Be aware that the person you choose as your executor may decline this responsibility. Therefore, you should name a second person to take on this responsibility if your first choice declines or is otherwise unable to act as your executor.
  • Finally, keep in mind that a regular review of your will is recommended to ensure that your choice of executor keeps up with changes in your estate and relationships.

Estate Plan

Selecting the right executor for your estate is a critical decision with far-reaching implications. It is important to choose someone trustworthy, responsible, and capable of collaborating with legal and financial professionals. A qualified and experienced estate planning attorney can offer you valuable guidance when writing your will, selecting an executor, and reviewing your will to ensure that your choice of executor is still the right choice.