Organization and planning can greatly reduce the time and costs involved in settling your estate after you die. One of the first steps you should take is to choose an executor, referred to in some states as personal representative.
Choosing the right executor can help to achieve an easier transition for your loved ones, alleviate a great deal of their stress and anxiety, and allow them to grieve your loss better. Choose the wrong executor and it can cause more damage than just hurt feelings.
The executor you name is one of the most important choices you have to make when writing your last will & testament. This is because the person you name, will have a great deal of responsibility.
After your death, your executor must take inventory of all of your possessions and determine the total value of your estate. He or she must also prepare your final income tax return, pay your taxes, settle your debts, and then distribute the remaining assets to your beneficiaries.
Your Colorado executor can be your spouse, domestic partner, sibling, adult child, or friend. They technically do not need to have any special training, however, the person you name as your executor should have enough basic knowledge to navigate the legal, tax, and financial implications of your estate.
Keep in mind that you can also name a professional as your executor. Financial institutions, accounting firms, notaries and lawyers often provide this type of service.
Colorado law requires the person you choose as your executor to be:
Unlike many states, Colorado does not prohibit those who have been convicted of a felony from acting as your executor.
Nor does the state prohibit individuals who reside outside the state from acting as an executor.
However, a Colorado probate court may disqualify any potential executor found to be unsuitable after a formal proceeding.
How can you ensure that you are making the best decision? You can start by first considering the legal and fiduciary nature of the position.
In general, an executor is a fiduciary meaning that they must act in the best of your estate and its beneficiaries. As a fiduciary, your executor's duties will include:
Be aware that your executor will also be required to sign court filings and other important documents throughout the probate process, which can last from a couple of months to a couple of years.
Therefore, you should consider choosing someone who is:
Here are some other considerations to keep in mind when deciding upon an executor for your estate:
An experienced Colorado estate planning attorney can offer you valuable guidance when writing your will, selecting an executor, and reviewing your will to ensure that your choice of executor is still the right. Call us today to arrange a free, no obligation consultation.