If you are a Lehigh County resident with a will, following your death your executor will take your death certificate, the original copy of your will, a checkbook and an ID card to the Lehigh County Register of Wills Office to be sworn in as the executor of your estate.
Being an executor means that this person is a fiduciary with many responsibilities and duties. Selecting the correct person for the job is a vital part of your estate plan.
You can select anyone over the age 18 to serve as your executor, but not everyone over the age 18 is fit to serve. Consider all the responsibilities that your executor will shoulder and carefully consider if the person you are considering as executor can carry out the tasks.
Your estate may need a person who can efficiently and effectively take on the following tasks:
- Arranging for the payment of your funeral (and negotiating with all the various personalities that will take part in your funeral).
- Timely filing your will with the Lehigh County Register of Wills.
- Arranging for the preparation and payment your final income tax returns, the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return and perhaps a Federal Estate Tax Return.
- Liquidating your assets (do you have any assets requiring specific skills and knowledge, such as business or commercial real estate?).
- Divide personal property between your heirs (including children from your first marriage and your second spouse?).
- Arranging for the appraisal of your property.
- Protecting your assets from theft and waste.
- Dealing with the emotional and financial demands of your heirs (and their spouses).
- Satisfying your creditors.
- Distribution of assets or funding of trusts.
- Managing the people involved in the estate to keep the estate moving towards completion.
Be honest with yourself about the candidates for serving as your executor. The Lehigh County Orphans’ Court is full of family disputes caused by parents being blind to the conflicts that exist between their children. Naming one child, or even all the children to serve as executor can be a great idea if they work together without disputes. Naming the wrong child or children as executor could doom your family to years of conflict, hurt feelings and litigation. If your family finds it hard to work together, it is better to hire and have the estate pay an attorney to serve as your executor rather than create hard feelings within the family.
If you have questions about whom you should select as your executor, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
Wills, Trusts and Estates, It’s all we do!