Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

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Saving$
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Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Saving$ » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm

Close friends recently asked if they can name me as their executor. I agreed, and we will schedule a meeting. At this point I have no other details. They are concerned the kids will fight over money if they name one of them as the executor, so they want a non-involved third party they trust. I'm happy to do that if it keeps the kids relationship intact. I don't have a relationship with any of their kids or grandkids - I've met them (I think all of them, but not sure) a few times over the years, but mostly know about them via my friends sharing their triumphs and tribulations. I don't think I know any of the kids or grandkids well enough to even recognize them if I saw them out of context (ie ran into one of them at a public event, etc.) I've been an executor before, but for family. What specific questions should I ask when we meet?

1. Should I ask to review the will when we meet, or should I just ask for them to communicate their intentions?
2. Should I ask whom to go to/how to find their assets if something happens? I don't want to know the details of that info now as it is none of my business.
3. One of the couple has developed cognitive issues. The assumption is that person will be the first to go, but if not, the estate will be used to care for the impaired person. I know I should ask who the financial POA would be if that happens. How else does this affect the questions I should ask?

What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.

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BolderBoy
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by BolderBoy » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:10 pm

Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
The #1 question I would ask is whether they've set up EVERYTHING possible as BOD/TOD/POD. IMO, the Will should be a last "catchall" for anything that was overlooked with the BTP designations.

Otherwise, I'd decline. The "fighting over money" part could be a huge can of worms.
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StevieG72
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by StevieG72 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:16 pm

Do you plan on doing this work for free or charge a fee to the estate?

Either is acceptable, if you plan on charging a fee this should be clearly communicated in the will. Otherwise the children may balk especially if they are not familiar with the process. It is a lot of work, in my opinion it is reasonable to be compensated for your time and efforts.

Ask lots of questions, it is a big responsibility and you want to make sure you meet their expectations.
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.

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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Sandi_k » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:34 pm

I have been asked to be executor for a close friend (now passed) and my mom. Some things that have come up:

1) Make sure that all accounts have updated beneficiary information (we missed one account with my friend; ugh). Banks, investment accounts, pension accounts, online banks such as Ally, etc.

2) Make sure that you have a copy of asset accounts and holders: banks, brokerages, custodians, pension administrator, etc. You will need their SSNs for notifying Social Security of their passing, and admin contact info if they're receiving pensions that will lapse with the passing of one partner.

3) A copy of the will, and/or trust documents. Copies of any divorce decrees and marriage documents.

4) I'd ask for a "springing" POA for finances. If one or both are incapacitated, it allows you to make required decisions for assets and bill pay, but doesn't take effect until that circumstance arises. Make sure that the POA is executed for all institutions I noted in #2 - sometimes, they have their own form...

5) Know who their CPA/EA is, and get an introduction. Ditto their personal attorney.

6) I'd sit down and ask them to list out a preferred method for dispersing their personal property. For example, with my mom, my sister is very sentimental, and has already told mom that she wants Items A-E. That shorts myself and my brother. Mom's preference is that we draw numbers for first and second choice, and then work our way through those items. #1 chooses one item, #2 then chooses one item, then #3. Then #1 chooses their second item, #2 chooses their second item, etc. For anything they have already promised, or have a particular history (such as mom's engagement ring going to the oldest son, or the only daughter) they should make a specific note as a codicil, and make sure the attorney has a copy of this list.

7) Funeral planning - the kids should handle this, but always a good thing to ask them to think about where they should place an obit - such as with their alumni association? Do they have a bio/CV available so that the obit is accurate?

8) The attorney should be provided with tax returns every year or so, so that you will have those available as templates for where to start (in case they open new online savings accounts, for example). Knowing where they received their income the previous year is helpful in knowing who needs to be notified.

2cents2
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by 2cents2 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:53 pm

I’m not a lawyer, but here are some things I would wonder about:

1. Will you be eligible to act as executor? (Such as: Some states have restrictions on out of state residents acting as executors.)

2. Will you be required to post a bond to act as executor?

http://info.legalzoom.com/can-executors ... 22047.html

3. Will there be assets inside the estate to cover liabilities? I’m just thinking what happens in a potentially contentious situation where most everything passed by TOD and you have nothing to pay the bills before the estate is settled.

mouses
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by mouses » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:08 pm

I think funerals are expensive, so money should be set aside that is accessible for those. They probably should buy space in a cemetery in advance; the fewer decisions to make at that time, the better.

The people would have to be extremely good friends for me to agree to do this. A normal executor situation is bad enough without beneficiaries in conflict.

2cents2
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by 2cents2 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:28 pm

One other thought is— shouldn’t you meet with your own attorney to find out whether this is a good idea or not? What I wonder is your liability should one of the feuding beneficiaries be unhappy with the way you have performed your duties?

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Watty
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Watty » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:34 pm

If they are about your age then one thing to consider is that by the time the second of them dies then you may be a lot less capable than you are now. Being a executor could be a challenge if you are 80+ years old then. It might not be in their best interests to have you try to handle their estate yourself.

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FIREchief
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by FIREchief » Tue May 01, 2018 12:45 am

BolderBoy wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:10 pm
Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
The #1 question I would ask is whether they've set up EVERYTHING possible as BOD/TOD/POD. IMO, the Will should be a last "catchall" for anything that was overlooked with the BTP designations.

Otherwise, I'd decline. The "fighting over money" part could be a huge can of worms.
I don't agree with this. If I were to agree to serve as executor, I would want a significant amount of financial assets to go to the estate, so that I would have funds available within the estate to pay legal fees, burial costs, final bills, etc.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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FIREchief
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by FIREchief » Tue May 01, 2018 12:51 am

Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
At a bare minimum, I would require the following before commiting to serve as executor:

a) a copy of the will and all other estate planning documents
b) a summary of all financial accounts; listing institution, account numbers, etc. I would not require the actual balances.
c) contact information for all primary beneficiaries
d) names and contact information for estate attorney, insurance agent, etc.
e) a listing of all monthly payments and how they are currently paid
f) a listing of all monthly income sources
g) a commitment to leave ample liquid funds directly to the estate to pay all estate expenses prior to final disbursements

If they were to balk at any of this, I would simply recommend that they speak with their lawyer about alternatives to fill the personal representative role. This is not an honor, nor a duty; but rather a chore that deserves cooperation and reasonable compensation.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

afan
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by afan » Tue May 01, 2018 4:45 am

As usual, Firechief raises excellent points.

Leaving everything in TOD or such status can make for a nightmare with no money in the estate to cover bills. One can void probate but still have a mess settling the estate. Bsteiner recently commented that, seven years after death, he is still litigating a fight over how to pay the final bills of an estate that was set up this way.

We have given our executor a list of all accounts and assets, location and account numbers, contact information, etc, but not balances. We put it in a sealed envelope for privacy and replace it annually to stay up to date. We have a long life expectancy at this point. As the end gets nearer we would probably want the executor to actually read through in case there are questions. Note: our executors also have our DPOA, so we are happy for them to have this information.

Executor has the name and contact information for our attorney. We don't have a tax preparer, but we give the executor pdf's of recent tax returns.

I would NOT want a springing POA. This only leads to complications in proving that the springing conditions have been met. We simply gave the people who will be our attorneys in fact durable POA. In this case, it seems the POA will go to someone other than the OP, which is fine.

Since the parents fear conflict among the adult children it would be important to get the parents' instructions clear to the OP and in writing to show that the OP is following their desires.

I would agree that the OP should be paid. If the parents' concerns about conflict appear well founded and the estate can afford it, I would discuss with them the option of having much of the work done by an attorney. This gives the executor more distance from contentious decisions, but costs more.

It would also help if everything that could be argued about was spelled out in the will/trust.
Last edited by afan on Tue May 01, 2018 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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obafgkm
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by obafgkm » Tue May 01, 2018 5:29 am

What about requesting the parents sit down with their children (preferably at the same time) and either letting them have a copy of the wills or at least the broad strokes of it? That way the children would all be on the same page.

Or would that cause more trouble than it is worth?

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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by carolinaman » Tue May 01, 2018 7:27 am

Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm


1. Should I ask to review the will when we meet, or should I just ask for them to communicate their intentions?
2. Should I ask whom to go to/how to find their assets if something happens? I don't want to know the details of that info now as it is none of my business.
3. One of the couple has developed cognitive issues. The assumption is that person will be the first to go, but if not, the estate will be used to care for the impaired person. I know I should ask who the financial POA would be if that happens. How else does this affect the questions I should ask?

What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
This is a major responsibility and exposes you to liability from heirs if mistakes are made or if they do not like how the disbursement of assets is done. You need to seriously think about this and you may want to discuss with an estate attorney to be fully aware of what you are committing to.

You have received some good suggestions from others and I will not repeat all of that. Note my underline in item 2 above. It is your business as the executor to understand the details of their estate. You need to be confident that they have a well documented and legal plan to disburse all of their assets through the will and other means (TOD/POD/etc). Disputes can occur among heirs who have the best of relationships, so you must be prepared to perform your executor duties in exemplary fashion. You do not want to find vague or undocumented estate intentions or claims from heirs. Doing due diligence in advance will greatly reduce that risk.

I would suggest a meeting with the attorney who prepared their estate documents once you have been named executor.

I really like the suggestion for a Springing DPOA.

Gill
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Gill » Tue May 01, 2018 7:34 am

BolderBoy wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:10 pm
Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
The #1 question I would ask is whether they've set up EVERYTHING possible as BOD/TOD/POD. IMO, the Will should be a last "catchall" for anything that was overlooked with the BTP designations.

Otherwise, I'd decline. The "fighting over money" part could be a huge can of worms.
I’ll reply more extensively later, but this suggestion is completely inappropriate and certainly not an ideal arrangement for most people. Furthermore, you are not being asked to advise on a proper estate plan.
Gill

gotlucky
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by gotlucky » Tue May 01, 2018 5:55 pm

Properly drafted wills or living trusts will identify who the Executor, Successor Trustees, Guardians (for minors) or Conservators are. They should also identify contingent parties. When I did my living trust, I identified four or five parties to serve as guardians for my minor children in case both my wife and I died before our children reached the age of majority. I also identified several potential trustees (not necessarily the same as the guardians) for the trust assets until our children reached age 35 and all the assets were distributed. For guardians is mostly siblings and close family friends. But for trustees, I included parents and other BH types. I knew full well that the guardians and trustees might pre-decease us or decline.

My point is that you have every right to decline becoming the executor or trustee when called upon.

If you are willing to do it based on what you know today, tell them that they can list you. If know that you want nothing to do with their affairs, tell them that. But if things change when they pass or if their estate is a mess that you don't think you can handle, don't want the headache or potential liability or simply don't like them anymore or feel that they aren't properly compensating the Executor/Trustee, then you simply decline at that time.

You may die before them, so there's no point in hiring an attorney or getting any consult before it's needed. You'll be able to review the circumstances in their entirety when the time comes and you can decide then.

quantAndHold
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by quantAndHold » Tue May 01, 2018 6:46 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 12:51 am
Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
At a bare minimum, I would require the following before commiting to serve as executor:

a) a copy of the will and all other estate planning documents
b) a summary of all financial accounts; listing institution, account numbers, etc. I would not require the actual balances.
c) contact information for all primary beneficiaries
d) names and contact information for estate attorney, insurance agent, etc.
e) a listing of all monthly payments and how they are currently paid
f) a listing of all monthly income sources
g) a commitment to leave ample liquid funds directly to the estate to pay all estate expenses prior to final disbursements

If they were to balk at any of this, I would simply recommend that they speak with their lawyer about alternatives to fill the personal representative role. This is not an honor, nor a duty; but rather a chore that deserves cooperation and reasonable compensation.
This is an excellent list. In addition, I would make a point of going through this list with them every couple of years to make sure you have up to date info.

Since one has cognitive issues, I would also want to know what provisions have been made to care for that person, and what their wishes are with regards to that.

trueblueky
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by trueblueky » Tue May 01, 2018 9:44 pm

BolderBoy wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:10 pm
Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
The #1 question I would ask is whether they've set up EVERYTHING possible as BOD/TOD/POD. IMO, the Will should be a last "catchall" for anything that was overlooked with the BTP designations.

Otherwise, I'd decline. The "fighting over money" part could be a huge can of worms.
NOT everything.
There needs to be an account that the executor can use to pay bills (until the house sells, for instance, or tax due on the deceased's final tax returns). That account can also accept income in respect to the decedent for the year or so it takes to close the estate.

LarryAllen
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by LarryAllen » Tue May 01, 2018 9:50 pm

Main question is "why me?" Lol. Horrible and thankless job. I'd decline.

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FIREchief
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by FIREchief » Tue May 01, 2018 10:11 pm

LarryAllen wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 9:50 pm
Main question is "why me?" Lol. Horrible and thankless job. I'd decline.
Best response so far!!!

This is one of those things that people can learn about in the Bogleheads forum. I used the word "chore," but Larry has likely provided a much more accurate description (i.e. "horrible and thankless job"). If it were not my parent or parent-in-law, I would run away from any such appointment. Otherwise, I listed my minimum criteria earlier.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

GCD
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by GCD » Tue May 01, 2018 10:14 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 12:51 am
Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
At a bare minimum, I would require the following before commiting to serve as executor:

a) a copy of the will and all other estate planning documents
b) a summary of all financial accounts; listing institution, account numbers, etc. I would not require the actual balances.
c) contact information for all primary beneficiaries
d) names and contact information for estate attorney, insurance agent, etc.
e) a listing of all monthly payments and how they are currently paid
f) a listing of all monthly income sources
g) a commitment to leave ample liquid funds directly to the estate to pay all estate expenses prior to final disbursements

If they were to balk at any of this, I would simply recommend that they speak with their lawyer about alternatives to fill the personal representative role. This is not an honor, nor a duty; but rather a chore that deserves cooperation and reasonable compensation.
This is gold, but it should be written in all caps and burned into the mind of anyone even contemplating being an executor. I have watched several executors pull their hair out in exasperation when they didn't have some of the above information.

I would also ask for a listing of all assets, their location and demand to view them to insure they exist. My MIL became executor of a guy who had no relatives. He had art, gold, gems and guns in his house. His "friends" looted this stuff out of the house after his death but before my MIL became aware of their existence. I could go on for several paragraphs.

I would also demand annual updates and immediate notification of any major changes (however you care to define that). I would also demand a substantial fee with penalties/bonuses if they failed to comply with any of the above requests/updates.

Yeah, I'm being a jerk and my attitude will probably ensure I never become an executor on purpose. However, you have to understand that the people who asked you to be executor just asked you to dive into the middle of a family brawl. Why you and not one or more of the kids? Because they can't get along that's why. And even if they can it's still going to be a circus.

Dead Man Walking
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Dead Man Walking » Tue May 01, 2018 10:22 pm

Google search the topic. I did when I served as the executor of my mother's estate. There are several sites that provide the details about serving as an executor.

DMW

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FIREchief
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by FIREchief » Tue May 01, 2018 10:28 pm

GCD wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 10:14 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 12:51 am
Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
At a bare minimum, I would require the following before commiting to serve as executor:

a) a copy of the will and all other estate planning documents
b) a summary of all financial accounts; listing institution, account numbers, etc. I would not require the actual balances.
c) contact information for all primary beneficiaries
d) names and contact information for estate attorney, insurance agent, etc.
e) a listing of all monthly payments and how they are currently paid
f) a listing of all monthly income sources
g) a commitment to leave ample liquid funds directly to the estate to pay all estate expenses prior to final disbursements

If they were to balk at any of this, I would simply recommend that they speak with their lawyer about alternatives to fill the personal representative role. This is not an honor, nor a duty; but rather a chore that deserves cooperation and reasonable compensation.
This is gold, but it should be written in all caps and burned into the mind of anyone even contemplating being an executor. I have watched several executors pull their hair out in exasperation when they didn't have some of the above information.

I would also ask for a listing of all assets, their location and demand to view them to insure they exist. My MIL became executor of a guy who had no relatives. He had art, gold, gems and guns in his house. His "friends" looted this stuff out of the house after his death but before my MIL became aware of their existence. I could go on for several paragraphs.

I would also demand annual updates and immediate notification of any major changes (however you care to define that). I would also demand a substantial fee with penalties/bonuses if they failed to comply with any of the above requests/updates.

Yeah, I'm being a jerk and my attitude will probably ensure I never become an executor on purpose. However, you have to understand that the people who asked you to be executor just asked you to dive into the middle of a family brawl. Why you and not one or more of the kids? Because they can't get along that's why. And even if they can it's still going to be a circus.
LOL. Thanks for the response. Excellent points about the "valuables." You didn't mention that if the executor fails to immediately "secure" the estate's assets, they may be personally liable. If you live six states away, and don't immediately take a break from life to make sure Aunt Edith's precious heirloom grandfather clock is secured, then cousin Ralph may sue you when everybody knows that cousin Johnny snuck in and jacked it before Aunt Edith was even in the grave. You were "negligent" in not having the locks changed within 24 hours, or being there with a shotgun to guard the valuables. Yeah, this is all hyperbole, and unlikely to really happen; but why would any sane person take the risk?

I would also be concerned about the need to get rid of "junk" versus the later claims that somebody thought that "junk" was worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. Think of those gems and guns. What is that crap worth? If you're executor, you had better be able to back it up and show that the estate received reasonable value. Otherwise, plan on some more legal fees!
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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FIREchief
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by FIREchief » Tue May 01, 2018 10:32 pm

GCD wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 10:14 pm
Yeah, I'm being a jerk and my attitude will probably ensure I never become an executor on purpose. However, you have to understand that the people who asked you to be executor just asked you to dive into the middle of a family brawl. Why you and not one or more of the kids? Because they can't get along that's why. And even if they can it's still going to be a circus.
Nothing could be further from the truth. You are being an intelligent and responsible person. If anybody is being a "jerk," it would be a person who expects a friend to commit to such insanity because their family is disfunctional and incapable of behaving as responsible adults upon the death of their parents. They just need to pay a lawyer to perform this crappy job.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

Cruise
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Cruise » Wed May 02, 2018 2:28 am

OP: Under the best of circumstances, this is a thankless and stressful job. I did it for my parents' estate and had wonderful siblings to deal with and a very well-planned set of documents with which to work. It was still a major undertaking. I hope you really love your friend and the disabled spouse, because something will have to serve as motivation when the going gets tough.

fourwheelcycle
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by fourwheelcycle » Wed May 02, 2018 7:10 am

I cannot improve on FIREchief's excellent list.

Two items that have not come up much in this thread are your age (OP) and the identity of their POA or POAs. Ideally, a named executor should be a generation younger than the older-age couple. Regardless of your age, I wonder if their will should name a successor executor in the event you are not able to serve as executor for any reason. The successor could be the law firm they worked with to prepare their wills, POAs, advance heath care directives, and other estate documents. You should see all of these documents, along with their complete financial picture, so you know what lies ahead.

My biggest concern would be who they have named as their POA or POAs. If you are truly close to them you might also be the best person to serve as their POA. The fact that they want to name you as their executor instead of one of their children is a red flag that there could be trouble if they have named one of their children as their POA for finances and health care, or one child for finances and another for health care. Serving as their executor will require (hopefully) that their finances are adequate, well organized, and accessible when the time comes for you to pay their final expenses and distribute the remainder. If one of their children serves as their POA, mismanages their finances (and/or their health care!) and does not give you any access to their changing financial picture, you could be presented with a disaster when the time comes for you to serve as executor.

As others have noted, one very bad outcome would be if the POA changes all of their assets to TOD and beneficiary designations, leaving you with no resources to pay for their final expenses.

I served as my aunt's executor and POA for finances and health care and I am currently serving in that role for my father. It is a large responsibility, but integrating those roles can provide the best outcome, especially if their children do not get along well with each other.

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djpeteski
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by djpeteski » Wed May 02, 2018 8:12 am

I am surprised this was not mentioned yet:

Read: Beyond the Grave
https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Grave-rev ... 0060936312

I am almost through with it, I borrowed it from the library. A good read for anyone. I will probably purchase a copy and have it sitting on a book shelf.

What strikes me about your post is that your powers for good may not be enough to stem the implied feud. Things like who gets mom's diamond ring might start a bitter rivalry war. The book mentioned above, outlines many pitfalls of such things.

As others have said being an Executor is a time consuming task under the best of circumstances, the last thing you want is to also deal with fighting siblings. You may want to take some time to meet with the heirs and discuss their concerns.

LarryAllen
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by LarryAllen » Wed May 02, 2018 8:45 am

FIREchief wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 12:51 am
Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
At a bare minimum, I would require the following before commiting to serve as executor:

a) a copy of the will and all other estate planning documents
b) a summary of all financial accounts; listing institution, account numbers, etc. I would not require the actual balances.
c) contact information for all primary beneficiaries
d) names and contact information for estate attorney, insurance agent, etc.
e) a listing of all monthly payments and how they are currently paid
f) a listing of all monthly income sources
g) a commitment to leave ample liquid funds directly to the estate to pay all estate expenses prior to final disbursements

If they were to balk at any of this, I would simply recommend that they speak with their lawyer about alternatives to fill the personal representative role. This is not an honor, nor a duty; but rather a chore that deserves cooperation and reasonable compensation.
Great info but also, in addition to primary beneficiaries, it's equally important to have next of kin. At least in California the next of kin are entitled to notice even if they aren't beneficiaries. Names, addresses, relationships. So, for example, if a person is disinheriting their son they still need to put him on notice (same if probate or trust administration). It can be a burden for an executor to do the work to find the person. If they can't be found then the executor can do a declaration of diligent search but why create problems for the executor? Just include this along with the other good info that Firechief suggests.

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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by bsteiner » Wed May 02, 2018 8:47 am

A lay person should be able to do the job. You can always hire lawyers, accountants, real estate brokers, appraisers, or anyone else you think appropriate.

You should find out:

1. Who has custody of the original Will.

2. The family tree, and their contact information.

3. How you can get a key to the house.

4. The name and contact information of the accountant, so you'll be able to easily get copies of the income tax returns and Forms 1099, which will help to ascertain the assets.

Saving$
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Saving$ » Tue May 08, 2018 7:57 pm

Thanks to all for the excellent info. This is such good info, I'm wondering if it would be appropriate in the Wiki.

To answer a few questions:
1. The kids get along ok; the parents do not want having one or the other being executor to divide them as this recently happened in a situation with which we are mutually familiar
2. I am younger than my friends, and only a few years older than their kids
3. I will ensure the will has provisions for compensation and allowing me to hire others to do the legwork
4. I have acted as executor previously within my family so it won't be my first time.

The advice is greatly appreciated.

kaudrey
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by kaudrey » Wed May 09, 2018 7:58 am

FIREchief wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 12:51 am
Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
At a bare minimum, I would require the following before commiting to serve as executor:

a) a copy of the will and all other estate planning documents
b) a summary of all financial accounts; listing institution, account numbers, etc. I would not require the actual balances.
c) contact information for all primary beneficiaries
d) names and contact information for estate attorney, insurance agent, etc.
e) a listing of all monthly payments and how they are currently paid
f) a listing of all monthly income sources
g) a commitment to leave ample liquid funds directly to the estate to pay all estate expenses prior to final disbursements

If they were to balk at any of this, I would simply recommend that they speak with their lawyer about alternatives to fill the personal representative role. This is not an honor, nor a duty; but rather a chore that deserves cooperation and reasonable compensation.
I don't think you need all of this now - you just need to know WHERE that information is and know you'll have access to it if they pass. I am executor for my parents and my aunt. I have their wills; and I know where they keep the rest of the information you list. For example, I don't know who my parents' attorney is, but I know that his name and number is in the top drawer of my father's desk. And all the other information is in their house safe, to which I have access.

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FIREchief
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by FIREchief » Wed May 09, 2018 12:43 pm

kaudrey wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 7:58 am
FIREchief wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 12:51 am
Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
At a bare minimum, I would require the following before commiting to serve as executor:

a) a copy of the will and all other estate planning documents
b) a summary of all financial accounts; listing institution, account numbers, etc. I would not require the actual balances.
c) contact information for all primary beneficiaries
d) names and contact information for estate attorney, insurance agent, etc.
e) a listing of all monthly payments and how they are currently paid
f) a listing of all monthly income sources
g) a commitment to leave ample liquid funds directly to the estate to pay all estate expenses prior to final disbursements

If they were to balk at any of this, I would simply recommend that they speak with their lawyer about alternatives to fill the personal representative role. This is not an honor, nor a duty; but rather a chore that deserves cooperation and reasonable compensation.
I don't think you need all of this now - you just need to know WHERE that information is and know you'll have access to it if they pass. I am executor for my parents and my aunt. I have their wills; and I know where they keep the rest of the information you list. For example, I don't know who my parents' attorney is, but I know that his name and number is in the top drawer of my father's desk. And all the other information is in their house safe, to which I have access.
You are describing a different situation than the OP. Certainly, if you are a child and have assured access to this information, you don't necessarily need some of it "in you hands." OTOH, many people think that their information is well organized and easy to follow but it is, in fact, not. In a contentious situation, entering a decedents home and gathering information may be an unwise move prior to a court formally issuing letters of appointment. Trouble-making heirs could go so far as to make accusations of unlawful entry and theft.

Do you really think that your parents and your aunt have and maintain summary listings of all financial accounts, monthly income sources and bills? If they don't do this in a deliberate manner, for the purposes of enabling efficient administration of their estate, it is very easy for something to be missed (thus making the executor's job much more complicated). Also, have you specifically spoken with both parents and Aunt about the importance of NOT naming TOD/POD beneficiaries for all liquid financial accounts? Until I became a Boglehead, I never would have understood that issue. That said, if you father, mother and Aunt are all over this stuff like some on the forum, than :sharebeer .
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

Mr.BB
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Mr.BB » Wed May 09, 2018 1:28 pm

I have 2 siblings that do not talk to each other anymore because of decisions made by one of them as our executor. This is what I would recommend that you make sure is supplied to you as an executor.
1) Letter of Intent. This is an outline from the deceased to help the executor on how they would like their will/assets to be approached. This is helpful if their is a dispute.

2) Ask that they keep an updated list of all their credit cards and other financial information (names/passwords) in a safety deposit box. when you have to start accessing all their personal records, this is a life saver.

3) Ask them to do a sit down with the beneficiaries (if they are elderly) so everyone knows what to expect.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

wfrobinette
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by wfrobinette » Wed May 09, 2018 2:10 pm

BolderBoy wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:10 pm
Saving$ wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:58 pm
What other issues or questions should be concerned with? They are working with an eldercare attorney to update their will, so it has a higher probability of covering most contingencies than many.
The #1 question I would ask is whether they've set up EVERYTHING possible as BOD/TOD/POD. IMO, the Will should be a last "catchall" for anything that was overlooked with the BTP designations.

Otherwise, I'd decline. The "fighting over money" part could be a huge can of worms.
+1

Before I would ever agree to this, I would ensure everything is spelled out exactly as they want it. And it better have provisions for death of a child, grandchild or the birth of more grand kids.

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FIREchief
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by FIREchief » Wed May 09, 2018 5:32 pm

Mr.BB wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:28 pm
2) Ask that they keep an updated list of all their credit cards and other financial information (names/passwords) in a safety deposit box. when you have to start accessing all their personal records, this is a life saver.
I would never include usernames/passwords. As long as you know where the accounts are, you can gain legal access once appointed executor by the courts. To access them using the decedent's credentials would be a very dangerous move.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

Mr.BB
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Mr.BB » Thu May 10, 2018 6:14 am

FIREchief wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 5:32 pm
Mr.BB wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:28 pm
2) Ask that they keep an updated list of all their credit cards and other financial information (names/passwords) in a safety deposit box. when you have to start accessing all their personal records, this is a life saver.
I would never include usernames/passwords. As long as you know where the accounts are, you can gain legal access once appointed executor by the courts. To access them using the decedent's credentials would be a very dangerous move.
The names/password list would be in a safety deposit box (which would only be accessible after the owners have died), and only the executor at that time would be able to access it.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

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FIREchief
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by FIREchief » Thu May 10, 2018 3:17 pm

Mr.BB wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 6:14 am
FIREchief wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 5:32 pm
Mr.BB wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:28 pm
2) Ask that they keep an updated list of all their credit cards and other financial information (names/passwords) in a safety deposit box. when you have to start accessing all their personal records, this is a life saver.
I would never include usernames/passwords. As long as you know where the accounts are, you can gain legal access once appointed executor by the courts. To access them using the decedent's credentials would be a very dangerous move.
The names/password list would be in a safety deposit box (which would only be accessible after the owners have died), and only the executor at that time would be able to access it.
I understood that. My concern has nothing to do with where they are stored. It is simply not a wise move to use another person's login credentials to access their accounts. This certainly violates the rules of the financial institution and in many cases could constitute fraud. If the executor can't access the safe deposit box before receiving letters of appointment from the court, then there would be no advantage anyways. Once formally appointed executor, that person can access the accounts legally.

While on that topic, it is generally a good idea to provide access to your safe deposit box to one or more heirs prior to death. Some people don't do this and have found at some institutions that the heirs are locked out for weeks until a personal representative is formally appointed.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

Mr.BB
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Mr.BB » Fri May 11, 2018 5:59 am

FIREchief wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 3:17 pm
Mr.BB wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 6:14 am
FIREchief wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 5:32 pm
Mr.BB wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:28 pm
2) Ask that they keep an updated list of all their credit cards and other financial information (names/passwords) in a safety deposit box. when you have to start accessing all their personal records, this is a life saver.
I would never include usernames/passwords. As long as you know where the accounts are, you can gain legal access once appointed executor by the courts. To access them using the decedent's credentials would be a very dangerous move.
The names/password list would be in a safety deposit box (which would only be accessible after the owners have died), and only the executor at that time would be able to access it.
I understood that. My concern has nothing to do with where they are stored. It is simply not a wise move to use another person's login credentials to access their accounts. This certainly violates the rules of the financial institution and in many cases could constitute fraud. If the executor can't access the safe deposit box before receiving letters of appointment from the court, then there would be no advantage anyways. Once formally appointed executor, that person can access the accounts legally.

While on that topic, it is generally a good idea to provide access to your safe deposit box to one or more heirs prior to death. Some people don't do this and have found at some institutions that the heirs are locked out for weeks until a personal representative is formally appointed.
Good points! Thanks for your insights.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Fri May 11, 2018 9:00 am

Even if you have access to the safe deposit prior to the owner's death, the bank may restrict your access to it once they are aware of the owner's death. I wouldn't leave anything in a bank safe deposit box that my heirs or executor would need prior to probate being filed.

And I agree that the logon and password details are not needed and potentially problematic. No one else should have or use your logon data, during your life or after your death.

But the executor should have a list of all accounts and sources of income as mentioned above.

AshevilleBoglehead
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by AshevilleBoglehead » Fri May 11, 2018 9:07 am

From personal experience, I highly recommend that you decline. It is a thankless and potentially painful job.
AshevilleBoglehead | “Don't look for the needle in the haystack. Just buy the haystack!”

Doroghazi
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Re: Asked to be Executor - What questions to ask

Post by Doroghazi » Fri May 11, 2018 10:28 am

Being the executor of my mother's will was one of the worst episodes of my life.
1) When ever you deal with whoever holds the assets, it will be like you having a financial colonoscopy.
2) Kids get along? Maybe, maybe not. There will be fights over tiny amounts of money, and who gets the furniture,
The china, etc.
3) You are to be congratulated that these people trust you so much, but there is little gain and much pain. If someone
Asked me if I would rather be an executor or have my little toe cut off, I asked if it were both or just one.

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