Choosing an Executor for Your Estate

Choosing an Executor to handle your estate is difficult, it is tempting to name a spouse or family member – but do you know the responsibilities and duties of an Executor?
An Executor (known in Colorado as a Personal Representative) is named within a will to administer an estate, and they will be tasked with several responsibilities during the probate process, which is the legal process that takes place in Probate Court that handles the administration of a deceased’s estate. So what will the Executor’s duties be? There is a long list, but the basics include:

  • Compiling an inventory of assets and bills;
  • Opening a bank account and getting creditors paid;
  • Obtaining a federal tax identification number for the estate and preparing the estate’s tax return;
  • Ensuring all legal paperwork is filed correctly and according to state deadlines;
  • Locating potential heirs, beneficiaries and creditors; and
  • Distributing the assets of the estate in accordance with the terms of the will.

This process may take months, or even years to complete, and unfortunately, the process also coincides with a time of grief for loved ones. But an Executor does not have to do this alone, a Probate Attorney is able to assist them with the various administrative and legal tasks that take place in probate. In fact, a probate attorney may perform nearly all of the functions of the executor, although the Executor may still have to sign off on court documents, and the fees for the Probate Attorney can be paid from the estate.
Choosing an Executor who can handle these tasks is going to be difficult, and it is best to discuss your choice with the person you choose. It is also important to give a second choice within your will, should the first choice be unwilling or unable to serve in that capacity.
Executor duties can be time consuming and difficult, make sure to speak with an estate planning attorney to discuss estate administration options.