Deciding to draft a will is a wise and responsible decision. Having a will can save your family members time and reduce the chance of family conflict.
When you set up your will in Maryland, you must appoint and executor. An executor is a person who is legally responsible for distributing your assets according to your will, sorting out your finances and handling any tax issues after your death.
Appointing your executor
You should think long and hard about who you want to appoint as an executor. An executor must be someone over the age of 18 with no prior felony convictions.
Your executor should be someone you trust to handle the many responsibilities and potential complications of serving as an executor. Think of someone you can count on to proactively take on the executor duties and solve any problems if they arise.
An additional consideration is that your executor should be someone who is likely to be available. For example, you probably should not appoint a grandparent, since there is a strong chance that you will outlive them. It can help to appoint a backup executor, just in case.
You can also appoint co-executors. This is often done to avoid the appearance of favoritism, especially among children. However, having co-executors increases the potential for conflicts, so this might not be a good idea, depending on your situation.
What happens if I don’t appoint an executor?
If you do not appoint an executor, the court will appoint one. However, most people don’t like having no control over who is going to oversee their estate distribution.
You do not want to risk the court appointing an irresponsible or reckless family member who will not fulfill their duties or create conflict and discord among the family.
Once you have a valid will set up as part of your overall estate plan, review it regularly to see if you would like to make any changes to your executor selection.
The executor’s responsibilities
When it comes to assets and debts, your executor will track down all assets listed in your will and distribute them to your heirs accordingly. Assets include many different things, such as real estate, personal property and investments.
Your executor will pay off any of your debts, including tax debts. This is usually done before distribution of assets, in case any assets need to be sold to pay off debts.
A final tax return might need to be prepared and filed upon your death. This is another responsibility of your executor.
Being an executor can be time consuming
This is a brief summary of the general responsibilities of an executor, and they may sound relatively simple.
However, being an executor takes a great deal of time, and the process can be draining. The responsibilities can be especially difficult to handle while mourning the loss of a loved one.
This is another reason to think carefully about who the best person for this role is. Before appointing your executor, it can help to talk over your situation with an estate planning attorney, who can provide you with valuable advice and options.