Choosing an executor for your estate

A solidly drafted will with careful, specific provisions can do a lot to preserve your estate and distribute your assets according to your wishes. However, it is also very important to select the right person to handle this process. Appointing a good executor can ease the way for a smooth probate.

Generally, Michigan law allows you to appoint any adult without a felony conviction, including one who lives out of state. Courts will usually approve the testator’s choice of executor unless another person challenges the appointment and shows the proposed or current executor is not competent or suitable to perform the duties in question. Considering the executor’s duties can help you select a person you think will be able and willing to handle them.

Starting the process

The executor begins the probate process by submitting the will and the death certificate to the court. After receiving the formal appointment, the executor can then proceed to take inventory of the estate’s assets. The testator can aid in this by leaving a list of assets, including up-to-date appraisals if necessary. This may not always be possible, so the executor may have to search out assets and obtain professional valuations.

Managing the estate

The probate process can take several months. Throughout, the executor must work to preserve and maintain the assets. This can include collecting debts other people owe to the estate, repairing buildings, running a business and managing properties. He or she may need to enlist or consult professionals for this purpose. Allowing avoidable depreciation or damage could impose legal liability on an executor.

Before distribution, the executor settles the estate’s debts after ascertaining their validity. He or she must also pay any state or federal taxes due from the estate.

Taking care of distribution and accounting

During distribution, the executor must act strictly according to the will. It is prudent to appoint an executor whose wishes or beliefs would not conflict with your will’s provisions. Once the process concludes, the executor submits a detailed accounting to the court, showing every transaction pertaining to the estate’s assets.