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Estate Planning FAQ 6

How To Chose An Executor or Trustee Monmouth County?

Executors and Trustees are sometimes referred to as fiduciaries. Fiduciaries have control over property that belongs to someone else. They are expected to manage the property faithfully and prudently. Trustees are named either in trusts which are part of a Will – called testamentary trusts, or in stand alone trust documents.

The main jobs of the Executor or Executors – there can be more than one – are to bring the deceased person’s Will to the local Surrogate’s office and have it admitted to probate, to locate and take control of the assets, to determine and pay the bills, to file any necessary tax returns and to distribute what is left after the bills are paid in accordance with the provisions of the Will. Ideally, the Executor should have some familiarity with the assets and liabilities of the deceased. Usually, when there is a surviving spouse or children one or more of them serve as the Executors. In cases where there is no surviving spouse or child, or where they are not the best choices, someone else, such as a trusted friend or financial advisor or a financial institution may be selected. In order to address the possibility that the first person named may not serve or may start the job but die, become disabled or for some other reason fail to complete estate or trust administration, someone to succeed that person should be named. If no replacement is designated then the surrogate’s court steps in and picks someone and the appointee may not be the person the deceased would have wanted. Executors and Trustees are entitled to be paid and their fees are generally set by set by state law, although they do not have to take the fee and at times waive all or a part of it.

The Executor’s job is over when the bills are paid, tax returns are filed and assets are distributed, sometimes to a Trustee. Depending upon how large and complicated an estate may be, it may take from a few months to a few years or even more to complete. The Trustee’s job begins when he or she receives assets to administer and may go on for many years, such as for the lifetime of a surviving spouse and perhaps even for the lifetime of a child. Trusts can easily be administered over 20 years or more. In addition, while the duties of an Executor are basically administrative, a Trustee may have significant discretion both in how trust assets are to be invested and how and to whom they are to be distributed. A trustee who is to handle the investment of substantial sums should either have skill and knowledge in this area or should know what he or she does not know and be willing to hire an investment advisor. Where family members are available they should be considered for the role of trustees but the person establishing the Trust should be honest about their capacities. If family is not available or the best choice then one can consider trusted friends or family advisors or a bank or trust company. Since a trust may go on for many years and may actually outlive the originally designated Trustee it is very important that successor trustees be named.

Call (732)-972-1600 today to speak to one of our skilled Estate Planning Attorneys. Located in Manalapan (Monmouth County, NJ), Cranford (Union County, NJ) and Midtown Manhattan (New York, NY); Drescher & Cheslow represents clients throughout the State of New Jersey & New York including but not limited to Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Essex, Somerset, Morris, Hudson and Ocean counties.

Ten Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions
First: What happens if someone dies without a Will?
Second: What is probate and how much time and money does it cost?
Third: What are the different ways property can be owned and what problems can these different forms of ownership create?
Fourth: Must a parent treat all children equally?
Fifth: How should property be left for someone unable to manage it?
Sixth: Who should be named Executor or Trustee?
Seventh: What about taxes?
Eighth: What about lifetime gifts?
Ninth: How can clients safeguard their affairs in the face of physical or mental infirmity?
Tenth: How are health care decisions to be made if a person becomes unable to express his or her wishes?


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