Everyone who owns property needs a will. If a valid will is lacking, a probate estate must be distributed according to the unbending laws of intestacy—a distribution that may bear little relationship to actual family needs or desires.
Unfortunately, many individuals leave an unrecognized weak point in their wills: Spouses, relatives, or business associates are designated to fill what is presumably the mostly “honorary” post of executor or personal representative.
Estate Settlement Factors to Consider
In reality, estate settlement involves a demanding, complex set of tasks—and the results, for better or worse, depend upon the experience, skills, and judgment of those you designate to handle the job.
The executor or personal representative you name in your will is responsible for safeguarding the assets of your estate, for paying proper debts, for contesting improper claims, for collecting sums owed the estate, and for filing estate and income tax returns. Your executor must decide what to sell (and when) to pay taxes and estate expenses and what to hold for distribution to your beneficiaries or to trusts that you establish for their benefit.
What to Look for in an Executor
In less complicated times, people relied on close relatives or friends to settle their estates. Today, naming an inexperienced executor is not only shortsighted but also potentially costly. The characteristics of an ideal executor or personal representative include:
- Financial responsibility
- Unquestioned integrity and freedom from personal bias
- Patience and sympathy
- Experience in caring for all types of assets and holdings
- Informed investment judgment
- Familiarity with special tax questions that arise when an estate is settled
- Immortality (What if your executor dies before you do, or before completing the settlement of your estate?)
Why choose Countybank Trust Services to serve as your executor?
Because many people are unfamiliar with the complexities of estate settlement, especially for larger estates, they may name a family member as executor of their wills, or as trustee for trusts created for the long-term preservation and management of family wealth. Once an individual has accepted the office of executor or trustee, he or she may quickly learn that there is quite a lot to do on the job.
We can provide agency services to give the individual crucial support. Such services may include:
- investment management
- tax planning and return preparation
- accounting and reporting
- discretionary distributions in accordance with the trust agreement
Our role in such circumstances can be tailored to meet the needs of the situation. We can take on just as much work as is wanted to get the estate settled or to keep the trust functioning smoothly.