New Yorkers who do not already have an estate plan in place should strongly consider getting one, even if their assets are minimal. Having an estate plan ensures that everything a person owns, including family heirlooms of sentimental value, goes to the intended person. Part of creating an estate plan means naming someone to be either the executor of a will or the trustee of a trust fund, which is someone who carries out the final plans after the will or trust creator’s death.
There are many roles to consider when estate planning. An estate plan can give someone power of attorney to make medical or financial decisions on someone’s behalf if that person becomes incapacitated. Parents with minor children will need to name a guardian to care for their children if the parents unexpectedly pass away.
An executor of a will plays more than just one role. Not only does the executor have to figure out how to manage and distribute the assets and properties listed in a will, but the executor also has to ensure that the right legal steps are taken before the items are disbursed. For instance, if an estate is over a certain amount, an executor will need to file the will in probate court so that the distribution of assets can be overseen by the court. The probate process can cost money and take years to complete, meaning people who want to avoid the probate process should consider creating a trust fund instead of a will. Executors also have to create a tax ID for and pay taxes on the estate.
Individuals who are creating an estate plan, and those who are appointed as executors, may get assistance from an estate planning attorney. An attorney may be able to draft a will or trust and also direct individuals on how to prepare their documents to be passed along for the executor’s control.