Having a will and comprehensive estate plan is one of the best possible guarantees that an estate will be handled correctly after a person's death. Individuals in Oklahoma should also be sure to name executors for their estates within their plans. Executors play integral roles in the estate administration process and ensure that people's last wishes are respected.
An executor may be anyone who is named by the creator of the estate, although great care and consideration should be given to the task before making a decision. There is no law that requires the executor to be a financial expert or to work in the legal field, but having a basic knowledge of such matters can be helpful, since he or she is tasked with the fiduciary duty of an estate. The executor is expected to act with good faith and honesty when handling an individual's will.
Part of the responsibility of being an executor includes locating all of a person's assets and debts. Prior to distributing any property or money according to the will, creditors must first be paid any outstanding debts that the deceased left behind. At that point the executor can even decide if probate would be helpful or necessary. Most executors choose to bypass the probate process, which can extend the estate administration process and rack up court costs, and, in some cases, extenuating circumstances can, of course, make this a necessary detour.
An executor's responsibilities do not end there. He or she must also be sure that final income and applicable estate taxes are paid, necessary continuing payments are allotted and the affairs of the deceased are all handled. When an executor is not named in a will, it is up to the probate court to name an administrator. Individuals in Oklahoma who go through the process of creating estate plans likely want to ensure some measure of control over the estate administration process, making the naming of executors important tasks.
Source: FindLaw, "What Does an Executor Do?", Accessed on March 15, 2016