Why You Need to Review Your Executor Regularly

Creating an estate plan is a task that’s ongoing. You’ll need to make adjustments to your estate plan as your life circumstances change and as you decide you want different people involved in the important roles of managing your estate. One of those important roles is that of executor, or the person who will handle probate and estate administration when you pass away.

The person you’ve chosen to serve as executor today might not be the best choice a few years from now. This person might not be able to serve, be interested in serving or may have since passed away. In all of these circumstances, you deserve to have a lawyer who is familiar with estate planning to guide you through the process and give you insight.

On an annual basis, sit down and review those important individuals in your estate plan, including your executor. If you notice that information is outdated or you simply want to make a change, this is the time to do it. It may also be worth it to have regular conversations with people named in critical roles in your estate plan, such as a guardian of your minor children or executor. This person’s needs and interests might have changed as well so it’s valuable to touch base with them to verify they are still willing and able to serve.

At our Virginia Beach estate planning law office, you can find support from a lawyer who understands the landscape and any unique concerns you have around estate planning in general. Set up a time to meet now to accomplish your goals, including determining what to pass on to loved ones and the best instruments with which to do that.


What Happens If an Executor Refuses to Follow the Wishes of The Decedent in The Will?

A will lays out the particular plan for how a person’s assets and liabilities should be addressed when they pass away. An executor gets appointed, also known as a personal representative in some states, to handle this process known as probate or estate administration.

If you are a beneficiary of an estate, or you are an heir to a loved one who recently passed away, you might have concerns about executors who fail to follow the decedent’s wishes. Your options for moving forward all depend on your personal resources and the possible funds at stake.

If you can afford to do so and if the assets inside the estate are worth it, hiring an experienced probate lawyer to evaluate this matter can assist you in filing the proper paperwork in court. You should always balance this with the possible upside and the possible downsides of spending time going through a legal process. Because there are so many different things to consider in this process, it is valuable to have the support of an experienced probate lawyer.

When you create your will with the help of an estate planning attorney, you do so with your underlying goals in mind and clarity on what to anticipate. You can make things easier for your loved ones by discussing some of your estate plans with them so they know or at least have a general sense of your wishes.

Contact a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer today to learn more.



How Does an Executor Gather Assets?

Before an executor can serve in their future duties as personal representative for a deceased person’s estate, they must begin by inventorying all assets. Identifying all assets that belong to the decedents and safekeeping them if necessary are two important components of serving as a personal representative.

Safekeeping is especially important if the decedent left behind any assets that could be targeted by thieves. Part of this process, especially if you are not familiar with the belongings of the decedent, could be an actual hunt for assets, such as spending time tracking down insurance policies, safe deposit boxes or financial accounts. Usually an interview with family members and a search through all documents belonging to the deceased is necessary.

Some of these assets could be mentioned in the decedent’s will but the executor cannot stop there and it is dangerous to assume that the only assets belonging to the decedent are those named outright in the will. Once the executor has gathered this material, they then must maintain the assets that require any upkeep. For example, insurance policies maintained by the decedent should not lapse at this point in time.

There is one key way to pay for these ongoing benefits during this temporary period which is to use the estate’s money. No survivors are responsible for paying out of pocket costs for a deceased’s estate.

The more estate planning work you do in advance for your loved ones, the easier it will be for the personal representative to close out your Virginia estate. You can discuss your planning with them or leave detailed instructions and documents for that executor

For more information about naming a personal representative for your estate in Virginia, set aside time to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer today.



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.