Most people start their estate planning journey with a list of questions. People like you, who do their due diligence when planning their estate, want to understand the process and make the best decisions for their situation. One common topic that we hear questions about is executors—the person designated to manage the distribution of your estate. Today we will discuss four frequently asked questions about choosing your executor in Georgia.
Who can serve as an executor?
In the state of Georgia, any adult of at least 18 years of age who is of a sound mind may serve as your executor (also called a personal representative). You may have heard that the oldest child is traditionally named the executor of his parents' estate; while this is true, it is just that—a tradition. You can in fact designate anyone you wish to serve as your executor, be it a child, a sibling, other relative, or a friend. At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we believe that the character and ability of the person chosen is more important than customs and conventions. You need an executor who is trustworthy, competent, and reliable to carry out your wishes. Not everyone has the right strengths to do this job well, so carefully consider your options and make a wise choice, unswayed by expectations or traditions.
Can my executor live outside of Georgia?
A relative or friend who resides in another state can act as your executor. The state may require them to post a bond with the probate court to guarantee that they will fulfill their responsibilities, but you can also specify in your Will that they may serve without bond. While it is legally acceptable to have an out-of-state executor, there are drawbacks. Settling an estate can be a long process, and it could be inconvenient for your executor to handle his duties and any necessary travel from states away for a prolonged period of time. You should make sure that the person you want to appoint is willing to take on this task and understands what all will be involved.
What if I don't know anyone to be my executor?
In some situations, a person may not have a family member or friend to act as his or her executor. This can prevent those in such situations from completing their planning, but it is important to know that there is a solution. If you do not have anyone in your life that you trust in this role, you can hire a professional executor. Many banks and investment firms have Trust Services departments that can act as your executor and ensure your wishes are followed. A professional executor may also be beneficial when familial circumstances are such that an uninterested third party may be your best option to manage the distribution of your estate. Speak with an experience estate planning attorney to learn more about these options.
Can I change my executor?
People and relationships change over time, and the person your designate as executor today may not be the best choice in 10 years. You can change your executor at any time with the help of an estate planning attorney. If you and your executor have grown apart, if it is no longer convenient for them to act as your executor, or if they have died or become incapacitated or disabled such they cannot serve, you can change your designation by either adding an amendment to your Will, called a codicil, or creating a new Will. We recommend that you review your estate plan annually to ensure that it still reflects your wishes.
If apprehension about choosing an executor has been holding you back from planning your estate, give Peach State Wills & Trusts a call at 678-344-5342. We will discuss your situation and determine the best path forward.