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What To Do When You Are Named the Executor of a Will

The Role and Toll of Being the Executor of a Will.

mountain of financial paperwork

Meticulously kept instructions were Mom's final gift to me.

It has been almost a year since my mother passed away. As I reflect on the past months, I realize that my role as her caretaker did not end at her death, but has remained as a top priority in my life. I was named as her Executor and Trustee several years ago. At the time, I felt honored that she trusted me to carry out her final wishes, not giving any thought to what that would responsibility would entail.

The hours that I have dedicated to carrying out these roles are too many to count. Numerous phone calls, documentation of each transaction, establishing new investment accounts and bank accounts while tracking every dollar has proven to be a test in my persistence.

Even more taxing has been the emotional toll this assignment has taken in my life. I never dreamed that because of my mother’s wishes, my brother and I would experience a fracture in a once close relationship. His lack of awareness of the contents of her Will and Trust resulted in anger and resentment. He lashed out and even accused me of not being trustworthy. Heartbreaking! I was devasted by his reaction to my mother’s instructions, but had to hold firm on seeing them through.

Prior to my mother passing, she made certain that I knew where all of her documents were. This was a huge win when I needed those papers!

Mom was meticulous in keeping her paperwork in order. In the long run, I know this was a final gift to me so that I could manage the upcoming responsibilities without searching for those papers.

I hired an Estate Planning attorney to make sure that each step of the process was being done correctly. She helped me to understand each phase of settling her Estate. Just as important, she communicated with my brother, giving him the assurance that these matters were being managed correctly. I am forever grateful for her help!

Based on my experience, when considering who you should ask to be your Executor I would consider the following factors:

  • Is this person trustworthy? They will be “in charge” of moving assets into new accounts and have to put their own interests aside.
  • Does this person understand how various types of investment accounts work? My lengthy background in financial services was a game changer! I caught errors made by a national investment company! Without my training, it may have gone unnoticed, and my mother’s assets may have been incorrectly distributed. Yikes!
  • Is the person you are considering have the time to devote to this undertaking? A rough estimate of my time spent over the past year has been well over 100 hours!
  • Can this person manage any emotional aspects of the family dynamics that may go sour due to your decisions?  Here is an article that can help you understand why your family may be prone to fighting after you pass away.

You could name a Trust Company or an Estate Attorney to handle these matters upon your death. An experienced professional will know how to interpret your Will or Trust and be able to see the process through for a fee. If you find yourself in this role, here are some guidelines for executors for you to consider.

Now that the majority of the process is behind me, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned:

GET YOUR DOCUMENTS IN ORDER AND LET SOMEONE KNOW WHERE THEY ARE!

These were the foundation from which I could fulfill my final act of caregiving for my mother. Thank you, mom.

21_02_Jane Dying Rose

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