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Naming your executor a good first step in estate planning

Estate planning can bring a sense of peace to a situation that can be emotionally upsetting to you and your loved ones. Making sure that your finances are taken care of so that if something should happen, it can provide both you and your family a firm foundation for finances and for medical care.

Having a dedicated person who will be executor of your estate is a good first step. The executor sees the will through the probate process. If this doesn't happen, all your assets will be frozen until the executor is appointed to pay your bills and discover your true assets.

You can see why estate planning needs to be handled by someone qualified to see your wishes are carried out. If you don't plan, the courts and the executor they appoint will do it for you. This can take long time, be quite involved and possibly be expensive.

The executor will ensure that if you have named trustees, they get their assets when and in what proportion you designate in your plan.

A trustee will manage the assets designated to a particular trust that you have named during your estate planning. Handing real estate and maintaining appropriate accounts are just two of the important jobs your trustee will be tasked with, so it is wise to choose carefully.

If you have your trustees and your executor, that will handle your affairs after your death, but if you become unable to care for your finances, you will need to name an alternate decision maker. This arrangement, called an advance directive, will allow someone to speak on your behalf.

Source: Real Vail, "Beyond wills: other essential elements of estate planning," July 1, 2014

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