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Estate Planning – Interviewing an Attorney.

I had an interesting meeting with a married couple the other day.  The husband had designated his wife as the Executor to his Will and she had designated him as Executor in her Will.  The Executor is the person responsible for overseeing that the terms of a Will are carried out.  It’s an important and, quite often, complicated job.

The Executor is ultimately responsible for making the decisions.  However, frequently, the Executor requires the advice and assistance of an attorney.  So, here they were, in my office, interviewing me to see if I would be the right attorney advising the survivor.  This got me thinking.

For many couples, selecting each other to serve as Executor is the logical choice.  However, quite often, little thought is given to the Executors’s responsibilities or to the attorney who will assist the Executor as needed.  Exploring this in advance can really make life easier for the surviving spouse.  It can help ensure that the survivor is assisted by a trusted attorney with whom he/she communicates well.   That’s what this couple was doing and, I think, it’s a wise thing for all couples to consider doing.

So what did they want to know? Here are some of their key questions:

1. What does the Executor do; what is the process?

2. When does an Executor usually contact an attorney?   What is the attorney’s role?

3. What are the typical timeframes for probating a Will and administering the estate?

3.  How are the attorney’s fees determined?

4.  Aside from the attorney, will other outside advisors be required?

5. When are the heirs involved, and what should they be told?

I think that being proactive and interviewing me served this couple well.  They got information about the Executor’s role.  They got information about what I do and how I interact with my clients. And, they got to go home, together, to review what they had heard and to discuss their overall impressions of me  – calmly, in advance, before the situation arises.  Definitely a good strategy in my opinion!

Getting Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga A. Goodman, will be happy to meet with you to discuss estate planning issues and what is involved in serving as Executor to a Will.  Contact us today at 973-841-5111.

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