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Choosing a professional to administer your estate plan

You know it's time to put an estate plan in place. However, you're single and you don't have any family members or friends whom you believe are up to the task of being the executor of your estate. Perhaps you asked a few people, and they all turned you down.

Even a well-drafted, thorough estate plan requires a responsible, honest person with organizational skills to administer it. The executor's role includes, at a minimum, collecting and distributing assets and paying bills, taxes and other claims for the estate.

Increasingly, even people who have close family members who are willing and able to act as executors are turning to professionals to handle estate administration responsibilities. They have the dual advantages of bringing expertise to the job and not being influenced by whatever residual family drama they may encounter.

While your attorney, financial advisor or accountant could fit the bill, the head of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (NAEPC) recommends choosing a corporate trust company that have no ties to your estate-planning decisions. There are trust companies with professionals who do this full time. Large financial institutions often have corporate trust divisions that administer estates.

Professional administrators charge a fee, which is paid out of the estate. These are governed by state law. In Florida, the percentage charged is based on the value of the estate as well as what services need to be performed. Corporate trust professionals can charge more for "extraordinary services."

If you're debating whether to ask someone you know to be your executor or choose a professional — or if you already know that you'll be going the corporate trust route — your attorney can likely answer all of your questions and recommend an estate professional who would be an appropriate choice for your estate.

Source: Money, "How To Pick a Pro to Manage Your Money When You're Gone," Kerri Anne Renzulli, accessed May 10, 2018

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