Trust is a critical part of estate planning, and we are not talking about revocable living trusts. We are talking about the fact that you need to entrust another person–i.e. the personal representative or executor of your estate–to manage your affairs after you die. Your choice of an executor is often more critical than deciding how to distribute your property. After all, if you select someone who is untrustworthy, there is no guarantee that your estate will be administered in accordance with your wishes. Continue reading
Picking an executor to your estate is an important part of your estate planning process and should be done with a lot of thought and consideration about who is best to carry out your final wishes and ensure posthumous dispersal of your assets. Sometimes referred to as the “personal representative,” the executor is tasked with protecting your estate by settling debts, paying taxes, and ensuring assets are properly transferred to beneficiaries.
Executors have tremendous power over an estate and must make an assessment of all the deceased’s assets and debts and may even be able to sell of or liquidate property to help settle those debts. For those reasons and others, courts do set a standard all executors must meet and even leave open the possibility of the individual being excluded from serving as the personal representative altogether.
Wisconsin law only has two written requirements for persons to serve as executors of an estate, which are that the individual must be at least 18 years of age and be of sound mind. While some states exclude persons convicted of a felony from serving as the personal representative of an estate, Wisconsin places no such restrictions on the person assuming that role.
When computers are being used in kindergarten classes to teach computer skills, it is a glaring sign that our society is fully immersed in the digital age. For some of us, we are completely paperless and perform all transactions online, store all records online, and rush to purchase the latest technology that simplifies our lives. For others, they are in-between jumping in feet first and wading into the digital age. The rest simply refuse to adopt technology and prefer to live as far off the grid as possible.
Regardless of your feelings on the subject, the fact remains that most of us will leave some type of digital footprint when we die. The digital age has forced estate planning professionals to develop new techniques to help estate executors and families identify assets and debts. Furthermore, some of those assets may be digital in nature which could affect how those assets are transferred.