When you use a will as your primary vehicle of asset transfer your estate must pass through the process of probate. This is an interim during which the probate or surrogate court determines the validity of the will and supervises the administration of the estate. There are many tasks that must be tended to during the probate process to make your wishes as stated in writing an actual reality, and these duties fall into the hands of the executor that you name when you are drawing up your will.
Many people do not fully realize what an executor has to do and they select someone without regard to this individual’s ability to handle the responsibility. The executor is going to have to make sure that all final bills are paid, and this includes taxes so in many cases he or she will have to bring in a tax accountant. In most instances the executor will also retain the services of a probate lawyer to handle the legal side of things, and this can potentially include challenges to the will.
In addition, the assets that comprise the estate are going to have to be prepared for distribution to the heirs in accordance with the wishes of the deceased. This can include liquidation of real and personal property, requiring the services of an appraiser or appraisers and/or an estate liquidation company.
As you can see, there is a lot for the executor to take care of and it requires a good bit of business savvy to negotiate these waters. Depending on the size and scope of the estate in question, it can also be quite time consuming, so your executor must be someone who has the time to dedicate to administering the estate. There are professionals who will act as executor for a fee, and this is a viable solution for those who simply do not personally know anyone who is willing and able to take on the responsibility.