Is it possible to change an executor?

New York law allows people who write a will to name an executor. This executor would take care of the estate after the testator passed, but you as a beneficiary or interested party may not always be happy with the way this happens. 

Your first course of action would probably be to speak with the individual about their performance. Many executors are not experienced in the capacity, so they could see criticism as a way of improving and therefore making the probate process more efficient. If someone did not respond to your polite inquiries, or if you believe they were engaging in some sort of malfeasance or malicious action, you could act on those grounds to dismiss that individual from the executor position.

Attempting to remove someone who is responsible for administering a will as it goes through the probate process is, as you might imagine, not a simple matter. This is due in part to the court’s general assumption that the testator already assessed and approved the abilities of the individual named as executor.

Complications may also arise from the specific points in the New York consolidated laws procedural rules that allow for removal of executors. In fact, the New York codes specify 12 specific situations  in which you might have grounds for such a removal.

Probate is a complex process. Not everyone has the qualifications or the ability to perform the fiduciary and actual duties required of an executor. However, you would probably need to establish evidence of the specific ways in which you found your executor unsuitable for the rigors of his or her position before having any chance of removal. This is not legal advice. It is only general educational information.

Understand these things about being the executor of an estate

Closing out the estate of a loved one after their passing is easier said than done. You may assume that acting as an executor of an estate is straightforward, but you’ll soon come to find that nothing could be further from the truth.

You should understand what you’re getting into if you agree to be the executor of an estate. Before we go any further, remember this: You don’t have to agree to this. Even if you’d like to help a loved one out, you can always decline their invitation to act as executor.

Here are some things you need to remember :

  • It takes time: Don’t assume that it only takes a couple weeks to figure everything out. With a complex estate plan, for example, you could find yourself working as an executor for a year or longer. From phone calls to trips to the courthouse, there’s a lot on your plate.
  • You must have the right skills: Almost anyone can act as an executor, but having the right skills will go a long way in making the process easier on you. In addition to organizational skills, you should have a basic understanding of finances.
  • Your temperament is important: As the process unwinds, you’ll find yourself dealing with all sorts of people. Some of them are friendly. Some of them are mean. And some of them are looking to take advantage of you. An even temperament allows you to deal with anyone and everyone you come in contact with.
  • Legal knowledge can help: You don’t need a law degree to act as an executor, but it helps if you have a basic understanding of probate and/or trust administration.

When you understand these points, it’s easier to decide for or against taking on the responsibility of an executor.

If you’re going through this process and have questions, take a step back to get an overview of your situation. The last thing you want to do is make a rash decision, as you could be held personally liable for any mistake.

Acting as an executor is a big responsibility, so treat it as such. If you require any additional information, such as the steps you should take, visit our website for assistance.

Important estate planning considerations amid divorce

As a New York resident who is currently going through a divorce from your significant other, you may find yourself focused on getting your affairs back in order and figuring out your living situation in the days that follow. While working through such matters is an undeniably important aspect of divorce, so, too, is making necessary changes to your estate plan. At the law office of Joseph Ledwidge, P.C., we recognize that your estate planning needs may change in the wake of a divorce. We have helped many people facing similar circumstances make changes to their estate plans that better reflect their new circumstances.

According to Forbes, many married people give their spouses important roles with regard to their estate plans, which might mean giving the other party in the marriage the power to make health care-related decisions, financial decisions and so on. Once your marriage ends, however, you may not want your one-time spouse having so much power over your situation and affairs, and you may have cause to update various areas of your estate plan .

For starters, you may have left some of your assets behind to your former spouse in your will, but you may not want him or her to be a beneficiary anymore once your divorce finalizes. Ultimately, you will need to make some important decisions about what to leave behind for your spouse, or you may decide not to leave anything at all in a move he or she may challenge somewhere down the line.

You may, too, want to  update your health care directives in the wake of a divorce. Often, spouses give one another the power to make medical decisions in the event that one party in the marriage becomes unable to make such decisions for his or herself. For obvious reasons, however, you may not want your former spouse having this power once your marriage ends, in which case you will probably want to consider giving the responsibility to someone else. You can find out more about estate planning by visiting our website.

Student loans after death

As many students pursue their education in New York, they may accumulate debt in the form of student loans. A previous  blog discussed what might happen if someone dies while he or she is still in debt. This week’s blog will focus on student loans after a person’s death. 

The type of loans a student has determines what happens to this debt after death. According to Federal Student Aid , people usually do not need to repay federal student loans if someone dies. People typically need to submit proof that the person who took out the loan died. This can include either a copy of the death certificate or the original document. Sometimes a parent may take out loans for his or her child’s education. If this parent dies before repaying this debt, these federal student loans are also generally discharged.

If someone has private student loans, the situation is usually different.  ABC News says that people may still need to repay a private student loan, even after the student’s death. Some lenders may take the money they are owed from the estate or turn to anyone who might have co-signed this loan. This means that a student’s spouse or parents may sometimes need to pay back student loans even though the student is no longer alive.

Sometimes, though, people may not need to repay private student loans. Some lenders may have a forgiveness policy to cover situations when a student dies before he or she has repaid this debt. If people have private student loans, it is a good idea for them to look into the fine details so they know whether their lender offers a forgiveness policy. Additionally, it is important to remember that even though a student loan might be discharged, this debt may still affect the taxes of the deceased.

Estate planning could avoid will contests

The aging population of New York is virtually beset upon by messages about how and where to direct estate funds. Sometimes, that persuasion comes from personal acquaintances or family members as well. Here at the office of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we often see wills that we suspect were directed, at least in part, by this preponderance of over-generalized or unethical advice.

If you were to lose a loved one while he or she was under the influence of these forces, the condition of the estate could be far from what you expect. You would often have only a few alternatives in these types of situations, such as forming an attempt to contest the will. 

Uncontested estates often take quite a while to pass through the probate process, but you should expect even further delays if you were to decide to raise questions as to the validity of documents or the capacity of the decedent. Unfortunately, we often see cases in which these delays and frustrations are the best possible recourse to right an unjust will.

We find that advice columns, such as this article from Forbes, are replete with emphatic language and common-sense reasoning that, while persuasive, does little to address the true challenges  presented by the personal, collaborative nature of the estate planning process. We find that the best results often come from bringing as many of the parties together in a guided, strategic process.

No estate plan is a perfect solution. After all, these strategies center around one of the most powerful emotional events in anyone’s life: the loss of a loved one. However, we find that getting together and discussing these matters ahead of time to the greatest extent possible often helps prevent disagreements  and disappointments in the future. Please read on to learn more at our main website.