Is An Executor Responsible for Managing Estate Property?

An executor, also known in some states as a personal representative, has many different responsibilities associated with closing out an estate. This is why most people sit down with their estate planning lawyer to name their executor in their will. This person formally opens the probate process but continues to carry out many of the most important tasks with closing out the estate.

It is also the job of the executor to keep estate assets safe until they are turned over to the people who inherit them or until they are sold to pass on to creditors and to pay down debts.

This means that some precautionary measures need to be taken on behalf of the executor starting with safeguarding household and personal items. These are most likely to be sought after by family members who might not realize the formal probate or asset transfer process. This includes collectibles, jewelry, art and cash. Unfortunately, family members might try to help themselves to items that truly are not yet theirs.

You can tell everyone who is asking for certain pieces that it will take some time for you to evaluate all of the aspects of the estate before passing it on. Explain to any family members who are confused that you have a legal responsibility to ensure that even the smallest item in an estate is appropriately accounted for and that all proper procedures are being followed. Likewise, if the deceased owned real estate, make sure that it is properly secured with locks on the doors.

Unfortunately, homes of deceased individuals are often targets for thieves, especially those who are seeking drugs when the deceased party was on pain medication at the end of their life. Consider using things such as lights on, timers, and an affordable security system to maintain the property.

Need more support with Virginia Beach, VA estate planning basics? Set up a call today.

What Does an Executor Do When There Is No Will?

If the will that is associated with an estate is invalid or if an executor cannot find a will, state law determines what happens to the property inside the estate. Many people don’t write wills such that when it’s time to settle their estates, it becomes difficult to determine who inherits the property. Virginia state law will provide these answers in determining who will administer the affairs of the estate, inherit the property and take care of minor children.

Without a will there’s no way to know who the deceased individual might have chosen as the executor, but someone must step in to take over this authoritative role. The court chooses someone to serve as executor if a probate court proceeding is required. If no probate is required, there doesn’t need to be an official personal representative for the estate.

Instead, an individual close to the deceased, such as an adult child might step in to wrap things up relying on informal state procedures. Each state has intestate succession laws which determine which of the closest relatives of the deceased will receive certain types of property. In most cases a spouse would be the first person to inherit under intestate succession laws but make sure you discuss the specifics with your estate planning lawyer.

A Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer is there to support and guide you when you need help with crafting the right plan for you. This includes naming the personal representative to handle estate administration.

Do Virginia Executors Get Paid?

The role of serving as a Virginia executor or sometimes referred to in other states as the personal representative of an estate can require a lot of work. Per Virginia code section 64.2-1208, the commissioner of accounts allows for a personal representative to be reimbursed for any reasonable expenses incurred and, unless a separate agreement of the court or the will provides, reasonable compensation for their services provided in estate administration.

The will can include a specific method for calculating the fees paid out to this person, such as a percentage or a specific amount. This means that usually the commission stated in the will is allowed unless it is excessive.

Many court cases have considered the issue of what is considered reasonable for executor payment in VA. A general rule in many jurisdictions that has been followed is that 5% of the value of the assets inside the estate can be considered reasonable.

However, the circumstances at hand might call for extraordinary services meaning that this figure could be increased. It is also important to realize that it can be decreased. A personal representative in Virginia should maintain original receipts for all expenses that they have incurred and keep a record of all time extended and any tasks performed for the estate.

If the person fails to file certain required statements with the commissioner of accounts per Virginia Code section 64.2-1217, the personal representative can forfeit their right to compensation. There is no doubt that you may have many questions about what this process entails and it is a good idea to consult with a Virginia estate planning lawyer sooner rather than later.

 

 

What If I Don’t Want to Be the Executor of Someone Else’s Estate?

Being appointed as an executor comes with a significant set of responsibilities and a high level of ethics that call upon you to carry out important tasks with a focus on details and the law. The support of an experienced estate planning professional is recommended when naming an executor or personal representative to your own estate.

Choosing someone else to serve in this role might initially seem easy, as you likely have a friend or family member who could potentially take on this responsibility. However, it is important to recognize that the executor you choose does not have to accept this position so you may want to have a conversation beforehand about what this entails and what they need to know before making a decision about whether or not it is right for them.

No one is mandated to take on the responsibility of serving as an executor and it might not be right for everyone either. If you have already been appointed as an executor of a loved one’s estate, you do not have to allow the court to appoint you to this role and can instead decline the responsibility.

In the event that the deceased party names a backup executor, the backup executor will then step into the role to carry the will through the probate process. In the event that there was no last will and testament, or the last will and testament did not name a backup executor, it becomes the responsibility of the court to appoint a personal representative.

As an executor, it is important to recognize that some of the key tasks you would need to take on include filing the paperwork for probate with the court, providing notice to interested parties, such as beneficiaries or creditors, handling any tax issues, and inventorying and distributing the assets of the deceased. Since this can be a significant responsibility, make sure that you decide whether or not it is the right fit for the person you have chosen.

What Does Your Estate Executor Need to Do Immediately After a Loved One Passes Away?

An estate executor, which might be called different terms in different states plays an important role in closing out the final affairs of a recently deceased family member.

There are a couple of aspects of this process that take place over the course of later weeks and months or even years but some steps need to be undertaken immediately. It is important that whoever you choose to appoint as your executor is aware of these responsibilities and capable of serving in this role. Some of the tasks that need to be handled immediately include:

  • Ordering death certificates.
  • Arranging a funeral.
  • Contacting an attorney.

The entire settlement process of a typical estate can last anywhere from 6 to 18 months. Those cases that have instances of probate disputes and beyond might take longer. It is also important to be mindful about yearend calendar issues as it relates to legal or tax related filings.

The executor’s primary job is to manage and wind down the estate of the deceased person, resolving any debts, reviewing the will, distributing remaining assets to the heirs and filing legal paperwork. This typically begins by arranging the funeral and taking an inventory to understand all of the assets inside the estate. This can be followed by sending notifications, resolving debts, filing taxes, making distributions and wrapping up the case.

Being an executor is a big responsibility. For more information about how to choose the right person to serve in this role, contact an estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach, VA.

 

 

Managing Your Last Wishes If You Don’t Have Children

Being a single person who is approaching your older years with concerns about long term care is natural. It is very important to think about who will manage your last wishes if you do not have family members who are aware of your estate planning intentions and have documented these.

With only a few friends and no close relatives, it can be difficult to determine who will serve as the executor of your estate. An executor has to be someone you trust and there are a few different ways to narrow down this choice in your life to determine who you’ll use for this role.

With only a few friends and no close relatives, determine within the group that you do have, who you might be comfortable with passing on the responsibility of managing your plans when you’re gone. If you are not able to find someone in your personal network, it’s time to extend beyond this and consider possibilities such as using a professional or an institution for the job.

This removes some of the personal aspects that you might have hoped to have a person close to you who you trust to handle these issues, but many professionals and institutions have extensive experience in serving in this role.

You’ll want to set up a time to speak with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer about this process and what to expect. An attorney might be able to assist you by serving as an executor of your estate but you should explore all of your options when it comes to outsourcing this responsibility to someone outside of your personal network.

 

Can My Executor Change My Will?

Your will is referred to as a “last will and testament” for a reason: so long as it’s legally valid, in the vast majority of cases, it cannot be changed by an executor after you pass away. Your will is your opportunity to share your plans and intentions so that they can be handled properly and quickly after you pass away.

Getting that “final say” is a big reason why most people do estate planning in the first place. Although your executor will be responsible for handling the terms of your will and managing assets that pass on to your beneficiaries through it, your will can only be handled and administered by the executor, not rewritten or updated per the executor’s wishes.

The executor does still play a critical role in the management of the estate, however. For example, this person must gather all of the assets and inventory to determine how many assets there are left over for beneficiaries in the first place. If there are substantial debts, this might mean that the amount passed on to heirs is less than the heirs expect.

Furthermore, if the will is not entirely clear, it falls to the executor to determine what the will means. This is a big reason why many personal representatives or executors end up hiring outside probate help in the form of an attorney to ensure that they handle these important responsibilities under the ethical and legal guidelines for estate administration.

Although your executor will not be someone who rewrites, tears up, or amends your will, this should still be an individual you trust and one in whom you’re willing to place your confidence. Discuss your needs with a Virginia Beach estate planning attorney today.

 

 

Should You Name an Independent Executor?

One important part of the process of creating a will for your estate is choosing who will serve in the role of executor. The executor has to play many important roles in the management of your estate, including all the paperwork.

If you don’t anticipate any major problems with your estate or arguments within the family, a family member can be named as an executor. While your surviving spouse might have the most inside information about your plan, that person can easily be too overwhelmed with grief to deal with everything that a daughter or son might be able to handle on their own.

Since there is the possibility for conflict with various family members, you might choose to name an independent party as the executor of the estate. An independent trust company or a bank trust department can handle all of these aspects of your estate.

A big reason for selecting an independent party is the desire not to put your loved one into the position of taking on the fiduciary responsibility. An executor has to pay due estate taxes, file an estate tax return, and then distribute any remaining assets to the living heirs.

In the event that the tax return gets audited into the future and it’s determined that more money is due, that estate executor is formally responsible for that. It’s unlikely that some heirs would be willing or able to give back their portion of assets to cover a remaining balance with the estate tax return or audit. The liability gets shifted away from a family member when you install an independent party into this role.

Your Virginia estate planning lawyer can give you more information about how the process works.

Can Someone Be Removed as an Executor in Virginia?

An executor is the person associated with the administration of a Virginia estate of a deceased individual during probate. The court can appoint this person named in the will as executor.

In some cases, however, this person is also named as a beneficiary in the will and is an heir to the estate property. In the event that you or another family member and you are concerned that an executor could be abusing their authority, Virginia law does enable you to petition for his removal. It is very important to understand this process as any type of heir in a Virginia estate because this can significantly slow down the process of estate administration.

Good cause for removing a Virginia estate executor can include bankruptcy, death, resignation, self-dealing, failing to perform duties, fraud, gross negligence, and more. If an executor is removed from an estate, Virginia law requires that a successor executor be appointed by the court to replace that person, so long as the successor executor is qualified.

In order for a successor executor to be qualified to serve in the probate of an estate, this person must be a legal adult, mentally competent, and consent to the appointment.

As a person putting together your Virginia estate planning documents, it is important to understand how the selection of your initial executor and successor executor could impact the administration of your estate after you pass away. Schedule a consultation with an experienced Virginia attorney to discuss who should serve in the role of an executor and successor executor.

 

What Is Required to Open an Estate in Virginia?

Regardless of the size of your Virginia estate, it is critical to establish a plan that can help prepare for the future. Having a necessary framework of your Virginia estate plan in place enables your loved ones to have a comprehensive guide to follow. To formally open a Virginia estate, an individual must first make an appointment with a clerk of the court for the city or county in which the individual owned property or resided at the time of death.

Certain items could be helpful to bring during this initial meeting, including a copy of the last will and testament, a driver’s license, the necessary probate fee, and any last known addresses. The clerk will be helpful in assisting with opening the estate. If the individual is appointed to help manage the estate, that person will receive letters testamentary and records associated with estate administration.

The executor or the administrator who is seeking an appointment in a Virginia estate must be prepared to recognize his or her role. Usually, the person who wants appointment is named as the executor in the last will and testament, but in the event that the executor named in the Virginia estate is unwilling or unable to serve, it could be someone else who is interested in seeking appointment within the state of Virginia. Schedule a consultation with your estate planning lawyer today to discuss how this might affect you.