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Q: – How is the executor or trustee of an estate chosen?
A: – To begin, if there is a will or trust available, that person will be named. In the case of a will, they will be called the executor, while in the case of a trust, they will be called the trustee. If the decedent passes without a will or trust, the estate will be called intestate. In this case, the court will determine who will be the executor. Usually it will be a surviving spouse, or one of the surviving children. Often the surviving children agree to who will serve as the executor, but sometimes they cannot and the court will hear rival petitions and then determine the issue.
Q: – Is the executor or trustee required to be an heir to the estate?
A: – The answer is no. Often the decedent names a financially skilled individual to serve as representative of the estate.
Q: – Does the individual representing the estate get paid for their efforts?
A: – The answer is yes, whether the representative is or is not also an heir, they will be compensated. The executor or administrator of an estate is compensated by a statutory fee scale. The trustee of a trust is paid a reasonable amount included in the trust documents, by the court, or based on a “reasonable amount”.
Q: – Can the executor be changed during the process?
A: – Yes, if the court is shown that the executor is not performing his duties properly, the court will hold a hearing to replace them.
Q: – Is the executor or trustee required to be bonded by an insurance company?
A: – Generally yes, unless the will or trust, waiver that the bond is required.
Q: – What are some of the tasks to be completed by the executor?
A: – First and foremost, the executor has to prepare the initial filing for the court, and notify the potential heirs of the filing.
There must also be a published notification advising the general public and any potential creditors of the passing of the deceased.
After the executor is appointed, an inventory of the estate’s assets must be prepared.
Finally a formal accounting must be presented to the court for approval, along with a request to distribute the estate assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.
Often the work of the executor is a thankless job. If there is more than one heir to an estate, others may harbor feelings of resentment. Even when the instructions contained within the will are clear, heirs may believe such instructions are not fair. Many items in an estate hold personal value that is not easily understood. The statuary fees paid to the executor does not sufficiently cover the emotional trauma that falls upon the executors work.