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Law Firm as Executor?
Old 04-08-2021, 06:53 AM   #1
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Law Firm as Executor?

My wife and I have no children, nor do we have any close relatives except people who are significantly older than us. Nor do we have any friends that we could ask to be our executor of our will. The only thing I can think of is having a law firm handle this once the survivor passes. Does anyone have any experience in handling their will this way? Immediate question that comes to mind is how would the law firm know that the survivor has passed and it is time to implement the will? Someone suggested carrying a card in our wallets saying to notify the law firm of our passing. Any advice?
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Old 04-08-2021, 08:21 AM   #2
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Just ran this through the mill in 2019. Yes the wallet card works. Also if you're entering a hospital for something whether or not you expect to come out, they usually ask for at least one person to contact, so you'll have an opportunity there to get the info out. I have always brought a list of people/agencies to contact.

Also, I went over this with the bank that is acting as my executor. They said they check obits, social security death lists, and other consolidated sources of the recently departed specifically looking for anyone who might be on their "To Do List." They said this is their business and they do it all the time. I won't leave unnoticed.
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Old 04-08-2021, 08:24 AM   #3
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FloridaJim57,

ms gamboolgal and I in the midst of revising our Wills Trust now.

I just retired 1-Feb-21 and we have one Daughter who is our Executor.

We have named the Law Firm to be Executor if both ms gamboolgal and our daughter is deceased.

We too went thru the same thought process on potential folks to use, e.g., other relatives but those were not good choices due to be too young/immature or older than us. We considered some very good friends but they are our age and we did not want to put that kind of responsibilities on them.

So just this week, we met with the attorney for final revisions and alignment to prepare the revised documents.

We have named our Daughter as Executor with the Law Firm next in line.

in the event that we and our Daughter is deceased, the Law Firm will take care of our final wishes. Cost will be billed per hour and paid from our Estate.

We will discuss with the Law Firm how we should put the Steps/Actions in place for our Daughter in the event that ms gamboolgal and I have Crossed Over The Jordan.

We have spent a good bit of time and money getting to this point. We feel that we have done everything we can to plan as best we can at this point in our lives.

All the best in your endeavors to get your affairs in order.

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Old 04-08-2021, 09:06 AM   #4
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This raises the question:

Who is the decision-maker on one's DNR, other than spouse/child (what if you don't have one, or they are incapacitated, etc.)
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Old 04-08-2021, 09:25 AM   #5
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This raises the question:

Who is the decision-maker on one's DNR, other than spouse/child (what if you don't have one, or they are incapacitated, etc.)
Thank you Amethyst - good point

ETA I think we have addressed in the dozen or so documents, including how to handle Medical end of life issues. But we will discuss to ensure what we think we understand - is in fact what the legal verbiage states

ms gamboolgal and I will get this question addressed and included in the revision in the next meeting with the Estate Attorney.
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Old 04-08-2021, 09:27 AM   #6
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Wow, timely thread for us as we were just discussing this last night. I didn't realize banks provided this service, thanks for that bit of info razztazz.
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Old 04-08-2021, 09:49 AM   #7
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Wow, timely thread for us as we were just discussing this last night. I didn't realize banks provided this service, thanks for that bit of info razztazz.
I didn't know they did either. I went to a lawyer thinking, "Lawyers do this, don't they?" He's the one who told me banks handle it too.

One note I'll repeat here: The bank will have a minimum estate value before they'll handle it. Mine is $250,000 so everyone here should stay above the min unless, at the end, you're all spent down from nursing home/assisted living. By law executors are only allowed to charge something around 2% of the estate's final value as a fee. It varies only slightly from state to state according to my lawyer.
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:05 AM   #8
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... Also, I went over this with the bank that is acting as my executor. They said they check obits, social security death lists, and other consolidated sources of the recently departed specifically looking for anyone who might be on their "To Do List." They said this is their business and they do it all the time. I won't leave unnoticed.
Yes, DW had a staff person at the megabank that did that every day. Law firms do it too. That said, it is not a foolproof process.

FWIW our attorney, quite a bit younger, is our executor and her firm is backup if she is unable. She is very familiar with our wishes, so if there is ambiguity in some decision she can resolve it. This attorney also knows DW through their church, so would hear of our demise(s) by that path.

I was executor for my mother, but I helped her with her will specifically to minimize potential issues. For example. my sister and brother were to inherit the family lake cabin but the estate split was to be equal $$ value between us. Thus the risk of warring appraisals. I headed this off by specifying in the will that the property was to be valued at the current county assessor's Estimated Market Value. This probably cost me some money but the asset distribution went smoothly.

Having a family member executor with discretionary authority over assets and distributions creates the potential for very vicious intra-beneficiary fights. Best to have a neutral co-executor if there is even a tiny risk of this. That neutral can be the bad cop.
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:38 AM   #9
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My DW and I have recently set this up (attorney rep) as a contingent executor if we aren't able to do it for each other. My blood family is almost non-existent at this point any my DWs family is...well...it could get messy. It was fairly simple to put into place and the firm is large enough that if our primary counsel is unable, the firm will be able to effect our wishes without too many issues.

Yes, the costs are higher than if a family member or friend did it, but since most of our accounts are set up as PODs, then the estate settlement portion will be fairly simple and it can be taken care of without the issue of family in fighting.
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:55 AM   #10
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Also, I went over this with the bank that is acting as my executor. They said they check obits, social security death lists, and other consolidated sources of the recently departed specifically looking for anyone who might be on their "To Do List." They said this is their business and they do it all the time. I won't leave unnoticed.
Ditto.

We had wills drawn up a few years ago by a local law firm that specializes in estates and elder care law. They told us they have people who check obits, the death index, etc. daily for names of clients.
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Old 04-08-2021, 11:17 AM   #11
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DH and I are also childless and in the same situation. No family that are not older, no friends we can impinge on. Our plan is to enter a Continuing Care Retirement Center at around age 78-80. The CCRC we are moving to has a legal department that is willing and able to manage end of life issues.

Of course....there are always bumps in the road, but that's the plan.
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Old 04-08-2021, 12:34 PM   #12
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Thanks good thread! We have siblings - not younger enough and probably too distant anyway.
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Old 04-08-2021, 12:35 PM   #13
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DH and I are also childless and in the same situation. No family that are not older, no friends we can impinge on. Our plan is to enter a Continuing Care Retirement Center at around age 78-80. The CCRC we are moving to has a legal department that is willing and able to manage end of life issues.

Of course....there are always bumps in the road, but that's the plan.
Hmmmm - doesn’t that seem like a potential conflict of interest? Who is the customer?
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Old 04-08-2021, 03:09 PM   #14
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Hmmmm - doesn’t that seem like a potential conflict of interest? Who is the customer?
I'm not sure I understand your question, but want to if there is an issue I need to be wary of.

Why would there be a conflict of interest?
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Old 04-08-2021, 03:55 PM   #15
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DH and I are also childless and in the same situation. No family that are not older, no friends we can impinge on. Our plan is to enter a Continuing Care Retirement Center at around age 78-80. The CCRC we are moving to has a legal department that is willing and able to manage end of life issues.

Of course....there are always bumps in the road, but that's the plan.
DW and I are in the same situation as you. The bump in the road is if we get killed in a car wreck tomorrow (or today). Who handles the estate if no prior planning has been performed?

Yes, our assets are joint or TOD/POD to each other. But what if each other leaves at the same time? This thread has impressed me enough to put a plan in place NOW rather than later.

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Old 04-08-2021, 04:15 PM   #16
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... But what if each other leaves at the same time? ...
I don't claim to understand the details but our estate plan deals with this. It specifically says that in the event of a common disaster it shall be assumed that DW died first. This removes ambiguity for some of the things that will happen.
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Old 04-08-2021, 07:43 PM   #17
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I am an estate lawyer and would NEVER pick an estate lawyer as my executor/trustee. We charge way more per hour than an executor/trustee. Look for a professional fiduciary or highly trusted friend. Name a few backups. Maybe a bank as last choice.
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Old 04-08-2021, 07:59 PM   #18
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I'm not sure I understand your question, but want to if there is an issue I need to be wary of.

Why would there be a conflict of interest?
Suppose you were on life support, with no chance of recovery. Would they keep you alive so that they would continue getting paid? That's one example I can think of.
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Old 04-08-2021, 08:06 PM   #19
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I'm not sure I understand your question, but want to if there is an issue I need to be wary of.

Why would there be a conflict of interest?
The CCRC is not an uninterested/neutral party. You are their customer. Relying on them to also handle end of life legal issues seems like potential for conflict that might work against your best interests. How can their legal department have a fiduciary duty to you as an individual if they are employed by the CCRC?
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Old 04-08-2021, 09:33 PM   #20
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You may also contact your brokerage firm. Example - Fidelity can be the executor too. Fido has Fidelity Private Trust Company (if I got this right)
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