When you sit down and begin to work out the details of your estate you are logically going to make decisions that involve property and assets. But once you have reached your conclusions and complete your will you need to make another choice. Somebody has to make sure that the wishes that you elucidate in your will are in fact carried out, and that individual is called the executor of your estate.
The executor shoulders a rather heavy set of responsibilities, and of course they vary depending on the specifics of each circumstance. After going though the proper legal steps with the probate court to open the estate, the executor must then begin to get everything in order so that your assets can be distributed according to the terms of your will. Your creditors must be informed of your passing, and the executor must make sure that all of your debts are paid. Tax liabilities will need to be addressed, and in many instances the executor will bring in an accountant to handle this aspect of the proceedings. The probate court will need proof of debt satisfaction in order to close the estate once the process has run its course.
After the debts have been extinguished the executor must identify the assets and then distribute them to the heirs in accordance with the terms of the will. This can sometimes be harder than it sounds, and it requires a particular level of business experience. So when you are selecting your executor you need to recognize this and choose based on who is best equipped to handle these tasks.
A majority of people select someone they know to be the executor of their estate. This makes sense as long as the individual has the time and the business sense that it takes to make sure that your wishes are carried out. However, there are those who enlist the services of a professional to administer their estate, especially when there are significant complexities involved that the layman is simply not equipped to address.