Is naming an out-of-state executor a bad idea in estate planning?

Readers of this blog have been advised to keep their estate plans current. Life events may result in changed circumstances that make existing provisions in a will or trust obsolete.

Take the example of moving to another state. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, this is a high probability for many of us: Those approaching retirement may have plans of moving to warmer climates or another special locale. The increasing number of individuals who work remotely may also facilitate a more mobile society. In fact, nearly 36 million Americans moved between 2012 and 2013.

Even if finances remain stable, it’s still a good idea to revisit one’s estate plan after a move. In particular, an individual may need to reconsider whether it is desirable to have an out-of-state executor.

When an estate plan includes a will, an executor will be required to perform certain fiduciary duties and tasks, even if named trustees have fiduciary duties to their respective trusts.

For example, the executor is the individual who attends to the deceased’s remaining financial obligations, such as finals bills and taxes. The executor also attends probate court appearances on behalf of the estate. After the court has performed its review, the executor will distribute assets and other inheritance items pursuant to the terms of the decedent’s will. These tasks may not require an executor to be physically present, especially considering connectivity options made possible by technology like electronic fund transfers, video chatting, teleconferencing and other options.

However, states have their own procedures governing the administration and closing of a probate estate, and an out-of-state executor may be unfamiliar with those rules. In addition, an executor’s presence during probate can be a great comfort to surviving loved ones and creditors alike. An attorney can help individuals consider all of the implications of naming an out-of-state executor.

Source: FindLaw, “Guardianship Overview,” copyright 2014, Thomson Reuters

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