Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Estate Planning Lessons

Estate planning tabAs part of its “reader stories” feature, Forbes published an article written by an author who explains what she learned by being the executor of her father’s estate. The financial lessons the author learned from his father during the probate process are below:

  • Building a team of “key of people” and introducing the team to the executor on numerous occasions can create invaluable connections between the key players and the executor that will help the estate execution run more smoothly.
  • Negotiating estate fees can save the executor money down the road. The author’s father negotiated a deal with his attorney that the attorney would only charge 2% of the father’s account if the daughter chose to use the attorney to settle the estate (as compared to the typical 3% to 5%).
  • Adding executors to bank accounts and acquiring checks in their name can create a seamless transition for bill paying after the death of the account holder. Additionally, executors benefit greatly when testators set aside assets to pay the bills for months or years following the testator’s death in the event the probate process is prolonged or the house does not sell.
  • Prepaying for funeral expenses is another way to ensure the estate execution and events following your death run seamlessly and with little strain on your executor and your family.
  • Even though close family members who are asked to be executors may hesitate at taking a commission (viewing it as charging the dead), it is important to compensate the executor because the job can be daunting, time consuming, and stressful for even the most well educated executor.

See J.D. Roth, Reader Story: What My Father’s Death Taught Me About Estate Planning, Forbes, Dec. 12, 2011.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing, PLM Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.

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