The Job of Executor

Many people think that the job of being an executor for a friend or family member is more an honor than it is real work. Not true. The job can be very difficult, time-consuming and can strain relations with beneficiaries.

Choose your executor carefully. If you choose an individual, that person should have some business, legal or financial experience. They should be detail-oriented and have time available to spend on the job. If you don’t have a friend or family member who meets this description, it may be best to choose a corporate executor, such as a bank or trust company. A corporate executor will charge a fee but will do a careful and professional job and relieve your friends and family members of the responsibility.  [Read more…]

Comforting the bereaved

The work of the estate planning and probate attorney involves helping people plan for death, disability and loss. It also inevitably involves helping them cope with a loss that has already occurred. In my personal and professional life, I want to offer comforting words to the recently bereaved, whether they are friends, family or clients. Our culture is not comfortable with open expressions of grief, and we all struggle with how best to comfort those who are grieving the loss of someone close.  [Read more…]

It’s all in the details: property titles and beneficiary designations

Property titles and beneficiary designations are an important part of an estate plan. Make sure they are current and coordinated with your planning documents. As part of the estate planning process, I ask clients for a list of their assets and how those assets are titled. The title to assets can determine who gets the property when the owner dies. Property that is owned by two or more people with joint rights of survivorship or by husband and wife will pass automatically at the death of one owner to the surviving owner. When real property is held by two or more people as tenants in common, each is considered to own a separate share of the property and to be able to dispose of that share in his or her Will.  [Read more…]