Preparing a will is, for many people, the cornerstone of estate planning. For some, a will can be enough to cover much of their estate, while others may require additional planning instruments to meet their needs when they are gone. Regardless of the size of your estate, choosing an individual to oversee the execution of your will is one of the most important determinations that you will have to make during the estate planning process. A person or entity tasked with such responsibility is called an executor in Illinois—sometimes known as a personal representative in other states—and should be worthy of the trust that you have placed in him or her to protect your assets and property.
Duties of the Executor
An executor may be a financial institution, trust company, or other entity, but in most situations, it is an individual person, often a friend or family member. Upon your death, your executor will be responsible for:
- Locating and compiling your assets, if you have not already done so;
- Notifying creditors, and satisfying outstanding debts or other obligations with funds from your estate;
- Manage all assets during the process of probate;
- Distribute property to surviving spouse and dependents, as required by law; and
- Distribute remaining property to beneficiaries named in the will, or as required by law.
If your estate is valued at less than $100,000, Illinois law permits your executor to close the estate without court involvement. Estates that exceed a value of $100,000 must be handled through probate court unless other estate planning steps have been taken to avoid the probate process legally.
The Right Person
The role of executor is not one to be taken lightly. There will likely be a number of administrative challenges and deadlines that he or she will need to handle, and it is your responsibility to ensure the person you choose is equipped to do so. It is also important to remember that the weeks and months after your death could be emotionally difficult for your family and friends, and, if you appoint a close loved one as your representative, be sure that he or she will not be overwhelmed by the circumstances.
Your executor should also intimately understand your wishes for your estate, as executing your will can be made much easier if he or she knows what you truly want. Finally, the person you choose must also be prepared to mediate disputes among family members and would-be heirs. The death of a loved one is never easy, and sometimes, grief is channeled as anger and displeasure over perceived slights and misappropriated assets.
A DuPage County Will and Trusts Lawyer Can Help
If you are thinking about the future and would like more information about appointing an executor to manage your estate after your death, contact a Lombard estate planning attorney at A. Traub & Associates today. We will evaluate your situation, help you understand your options, and work with you in drafting the most appropriate planning instruments to provide security for your family. Call 630-426-0196 to schedule your introductory consultation.