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Picking an executor for my estate
Old 03-31-2020, 03:50 PM   #1
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Picking an executor for my estate

At 60 years old I've finally decided to write a will. I'm never married with no kids. Most of my estate is going to various charities, but I'm stumped on who to pick for an executor. I figure it should be someone young enough to likely outlive me, but all my friends and close relatives are my age or older.

Any suggestions?
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Old 03-31-2020, 03:58 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by susswein View Post
At 60 years old I've finally decided to write a will. I'm never married with no kids. Most of my estate is going to various charities, but I'm stumped on who to pick for an executor. I figure it should be someone young enough to likely outlive me, but all my friends and close relatives are my age or older.

Any suggestions?
We're in the same boat, except married. No kids. We both have nieces and nephews with only 1 or 2 out of the whole lot that can be trusted.

SO... We used a trust company. Yes, a faceless corporation as executor. They'll take a decent chunk of the pie (a few %), but who cares, we're dead. They will follow the instructions without prejudice. We will give nobody a headache.

Oh, and this is a will, not a trust. It doesn't have to be a trust for a trust company to handle it.

One gotcha... We did have to name real people to be our health care powers of attorney. So, pick someone who will do you right when your mind is gone.
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Old 03-31-2020, 03:59 PM   #3
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If you don't have anybody, an estate lawyer will sometimes do it for a fee. They don't enjoy it, though, so be prepared to show you have your ducks in order, aren't a hoarder, and are worth something.
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Old 03-31-2020, 05:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by susswein View Post
At 60 years old I've finally decided to write a will. I'm never married with no kids. Most of my estate is going to various charities, but I'm stumped on who to pick for an executor. I figure it should be someone young enough to likely outlive me, but all my friends and close relatives are my age or older.

Any suggestions?
My suggestion would be to pick one based on your assessment of their desire to act as executor & their ability to follow your instructions.

Statistically speaking, you & your similarly aged friends have years ahead of you. Don't delay writing your will. You can always change the executor later if needed.

We're in the same age group & that's what we've done.
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Old 03-31-2020, 05:27 PM   #5
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Our (younger) attorney is our executor. The estate is moderately complex, though, with a three testamentary trusts, including one special needs trust and state estate tax. Having worked with her on the estate plan, we are confident that she understands our wishes. This is more important than just what is in the documents since ambiguities always exist and the world seems to be changing all the time.

If your charitable bequests are significant you may also want to sit down with the charities and agree on how the funds are to be used. We have done this, too.
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Old 03-31-2020, 05:58 PM   #6
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I asked the lawyer this question while I was talking to him about making out a will. He said almost all banks have an estate administration department that handles that. So, I talked to my bank and set it up. Depending on the bank they usually have a minimum estate value before they will handle it. I don't know how things will come off if I am spent down at the end from time in a nursing home. The will specifies that if my bank should decline handling the estate any other bank willing to do it can take it over. There won't be all that much anyway. I'm sure a bank or a local lawyer would be willing to take it up pro bono.

I had not heard of a "trust company" as JoeWras mentioned. Maybe I'd have gone that route if things hadn't been so opaque at the time
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Old 03-31-2020, 06:19 PM   #7
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I've both seen & heard of unscrupulous executors engaging in self-enrichment.
Theres little recourse, it's costly to pursue civil judgments.

In one cricumstance an executor wrote themselves checks claiming the expired individual said too.

You want a lien on an executors R.E? it'll cost you.
I'd inquire with banks, trusts, and such.

I'd suggest you think of considerations out of the norm.
( I heard of one atty. that self-enriched themselves like that )
Money changes people, Best wishes.
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Old 04-01-2020, 05:49 AM   #8
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I had not heard of a "trust company" as JoeWras mentioned. Maybe I'd have gone that route if things hadn't been so opaque at the time
We're actually doing what you are doing. I was trying to make it generic. Our bank, actually a credit union, has a subsidiary to handle estate matters. I've seen the word "trust company" used. I'm no lawyer, so I'm not sure if that is correct. It does get google hits, however.

The point is we hired faceless professionals who will take a very nice fee, instead of putting this on some niece or nephew who probably won't want the burden of the job.
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Old 04-01-2020, 05:59 AM   #9
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If you ask a relative to be the executor, they should still be paid. Remember, the family member(s) could always decline, in which case a professional executor would need to be appointed anyway.

In my opinion, the only time it's not necessary is when the sole beneficiary is the executor, because it's all going to them anyway. When there are two or more beneficiaries, the one with the burden of executing it should be compensated more for their efforts. But it's sometimes better for family harmony to pay a professional executor.
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Old 04-01-2020, 06:14 AM   #10
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I agree. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, think of a fair percentage. Anywhere from 5% of a large but simple estate, to 20% for a small one that involves cleaning up hoarder property (do hoarders have wills? Do they know they're hoarders?)

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If you ask a relative to be the executor, they should still be paid. Remember, the family member(s) could always decline, in which case a professional executor would need to be appointed anyway.

In my opinion, the only time it's not necessary is when the sole beneficiary is the executor, because it's all going to them anyway. When there are two or more beneficiaries, the one with the burden of executing it should be compensated more for their efforts. But it's sometimes better for family harmony to pay a professional executor.
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Old 04-01-2020, 06:19 AM   #11
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When I was in business I had a customer who was in a similar situation. He left everything to a favorite charity ( a private college ) and they handled the entire estate for him. He placed many assets in a charitable remainder trust with this college and I was impressed how well he was treated and taken care of.


You may want to check with one of the future benefactors to see if they offer a service to handle your estate.
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Old 04-01-2020, 06:24 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by susswein View Post
At 60 years old I've finally decided to write a will. I'm never married with no kids. Most of my estate is going to various charities, but I'm stumped on who to pick for an executor. I figure it should be someone young enough to likely outlive me, but all my friends and close relatives are my age or older.

Any suggestions?
Why not look into setting up your assets with your charities as beneficiaries? Depending on your state you may be able to do this with most brokerage and bank accounts. Retirement accounts (401k IRA etc.) always allow beneficiaries.

There are also ways to title real estate to transfer directly outside of probate.

The advantage is that whoever administers your estate would, for these assets, at most , just need to notify the charity that you have passed. They would not need to be involved with the actual distribution of these funds and, of course, no probate court would be involved with these assets either.

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Old 04-01-2020, 06:32 AM   #13
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I agree. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, think of a fair percentage. Anywhere from 5% of a large but simple estate, to 20% for a small one that involves cleaning up hoarder property (do hoarders have wills? Do they know they're hoarders?)
My hoarder had a will, but I was his only son, and so his only beneficiary. (Well, technically my mother was the primary beneficiary, but she predeceased him, and also divorced him after the will was written to name his "wife" as the primary, although I have no idea if that would have mattered.) I think most hoarders are aware of what other people think of their habit/compulsion, even if they don't agree with them; if they don't hear from friends or family members about the conditions of their home, it is because they scrupulously avoid anyone seeing inside their homes.
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Old 04-01-2020, 07:06 AM   #14
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DMIL lived with her former BF for ~ 10 years. He was definitely a hoarder, and hoarded up DMIL's place while he was there. There stuff got all mixed up together. When he moved out, his stuff did not.

DMIL did have a will and my DW was the executor. Fortunately we got a head start on this because DMIL bought a new condo in 2014 and then we took ~ 4 years to clean out and sell the hoarded property. Now we have a relatively more simple problem on our hands in dealing with the estate that includes the Condo.

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Old 04-01-2020, 10:34 AM   #15
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is correct. It does get google hits, however.

The point is we hired faceless professionals who will take a very nice fee, instead of putting this on some niece or nephew who probably won't want the burden of the job.

Slight addendum: I don't know what people here are calling a "nice fee" but one thing I found out during the process was that the fee the bank estate administration department charges is capped by law. In my state it is 2%. The lawyer said 2% is about what every state comes in at. To dispatch the body and destroy any remaining evidence that doesn't seem like too much.
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Old 04-01-2020, 11:10 AM   #16
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We had our wills drawn up by an attorney whose practice specializes in estates and elder law. We named them as the estate with a fee as a percentage of the estate. Everything goes to charity, except household goods, family keepsakes, etc., which will go to family members. We have no kids. This firm actually checks the obits every day to see when any of their clients died.
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Old 04-01-2020, 11:12 AM   #17
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In addition to finding a executor, the challenge is writing the incapacitation clause for when the executor is to take over your affairs if you get dementia before dying.

Dad's documents stated "when a letter from a Dr states so". BUT. Drs here will never write the letter! 3 Drs and 2 hospital social workers all used the exact same phrase "he's still making decisions, they're just bad decisions". Now I'm spending 25-30K to take my dad to court in order to get him declared incompetent.

I don't have answer for the incapacitation clause. I'm thinking something objective like "when I score X on a dementia test" and X = dementia. (ex. below 20 on a SLUMs or whatever the failing score on the MMSE test is).

If you're not going to trust your trustee to take over when needed, you need a new trustee.
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Old 04-01-2020, 11:23 AM   #18
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...This firm actually checks the obits every day to see when any of their clients died.
Yes. Goes with the territory. DW, SVP at Megabank, had one of her troops doing this every day too.
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Old 04-01-2020, 11:32 AM   #19
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Yes. Goes with the territory. DW, SVP at Megabank, had one of her troops doing this every day too.
It wouldn't work for dementia clients, but the last couple of days I've been exploring "deadman switch" tools to notify somebody to come get our dog if the switch doesn't get reset every 24 hrs or some such.

For something like notifying an executor it depends on how fast they need to be notified. The shortest duration on google inactive account manager is 3 months(!).
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Old 04-01-2020, 11:52 AM   #20
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... This firm actually checks the obits every day to see when any of their clients died.
Who's writing these obits and paying to have them published? I would think that if I have someone who's close enough to take that on, then I'd be giving that person the contact info for my executor.
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