Estate planning involves making crucial decisions that will have a lasting impact on your loved ones. One of the most significant decisions you will need to make is who to appoint as the executor of your will or the trustee of your trust. This is a person who will carry out your wishes, manage your assets, and ensure that the terms of your will or trust are followed accurately. Therefore, the important question to ask is how do you go about selecting the right person for the job? In this post, we will break down the factors you should consider when making this essential decision.
Responsibilities of an Executor and Trustee in Massachusetts
The first thing to understand is the role that an executor or trustee will play in your estate plan. In Massachusetts, an executor is responsible for probating your will, gathering and inventorying assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. A trustee manages the assets in a trust, which can involve investment decisions, tax filings, and disbursements to beneficiaries. Evidently, the responsibilities are numerous and often complex, so the individual you choose should be competent and trustworthy.
The Importance of Trustworthiness
An executor or trustee must be above all else, trustworthy. This individual will be handling your financial affairs and making decisions that affect your loved ones. It is crucial that the person you choose is not only reliable but also ethically sound. Many people automatically think of family members for these roles, which can work well, but the most important criterion is trustworthiness, not familial relationships.
Knowledge and Financial Acumen
The tasks involved in administering an estate or trust often require a solid understanding of financial principles. While your executor or trustee does not have to be a financial wizard, some basic knowledge is helpful. If your estate is large or involves complex assets like businesses, real estate, or substantial investments, you may want to consider someone with more financial knowledge. However, keep in mind that the person can also consult professionals when needed.
Availability and Willingness to Serve
The role of executor or trustee can be time-consuming, especially in the beginning stages of administering an estate or trust. Make sure that the person you have in mind is willing to take on this commitment. Discuss the responsibilities with them in detail, so they are not surprised or overwhelmed once they are appointed.
Location of Your Executor or Trustee in Massachusetts
While it is possible for your executor or trustee to live out-of-state, there are practical advantages to choosing someone who lives close to you or at least within Massachusetts. Being local can make it easier to manage assets, attend court hearings, and communicate with local professionals and beneficiaries. It can also potentially save on expenses related to travel for out-of-state executors or trustees.
Multiple Executors or Trustees
If you are having difficulty choosing just one person, it is possible to appoint co-executors or co-trustees. This can be beneficial for balancing skill sets or for checks and balances. However, keep in mind that this can also lead to conflict or slow down the decision-making process if the co-executors or co-trustees do not agree.
Consult the Experienced Team at Casey Lundregan Burns for Your Executor or Trustee Selection
Choosing an executor or trustee is a critical decision that will have a lasting impact on the effective administration of your estate or trust. With over 80 years of experience guiding families in Massachusetts through these essential choices, the Casey Lundregan Burns team is here to assist you. We understand the complexities and responsibilities involved and can help you make an informed decision tailored to your unique needs. To explore your options and ensure that your wishes will be faithfully executed, talk to us today. We are here to help you every step of the way. Please get in touch to schedule your case evaluation online or contact us at (978) 878-3519.