Many people put quite a bit of thought into what they would like to happen to their assets when they die. This sort of planning is advisable and can help grieving loved ones, by reducing uncertainty regarding the deceased’s intentions. It is also a good idea, however, to think carefully about who will fulfill the fiduciary roles that are required to give effect to those intentions. Fiduciary responsibilities that need to be considered include the roles of executor, trustee and guardian.
Grieving is a complicated thing. In our experience, even the best of families undergo some relational stress during the course of the winding up of an estate. An executor who combines professionalism with the personal touch will help clarify the deceased’s intentions, explain the process involved, keep the family informed along the way and help to finalise the estate as soon as reasonably possible. Most clients ponder the pros and cons of whether to nominate a close family member as executor or to make use of the services of a professional. Circumstances will vary and what is good for one family may not be good for another. More often than not, a lay person who is not trained in the administration of estates process will end up appointing a professional to assist them with the executor’s duties. The advantage of doing it this way is that they can choose who they have confidence in working with at the time. The decision will need to be made fairly quickly after the death of their loved one, however, so there is value in having discussed this beforehand. Others prefer to relieve their family of having to make this decision while under stress, and so nominate a professional in their will directly.
The standard fee for performing the executor’s role is 3.5% of the gross value of the estate. This in itself requires a measure of planning when considering the distribution of one’s estate. Many professionals will have a minimum fee that they can charge for the work involved, but will be prepared to negotiate the fees for larger estates. There is too much detail involved in the winding up of an estate to set it all out in an article of this nature, but interested clients are welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or of course, personally, by phone or face to face consultation.
Next time, more on the roles of trustees and guardians …