beneficiaries and executors
Updated: Mar 24
sometimes the concepts are a bit difficult to understand or is not clear how necessary they are or the role of the lawyer. We try to answer this an other questions here.
what is a beneficiary?
The beneficiary is the person who would be receiving funds as a result of a will or a trust. A beneficiary, for example, can also be the beneficiary on a bank account or an insurance policy. So, the party receiving the monies is considered a beneficiary, and that monies can be received in a variety of ways. It can be someone who is a beneficiary of an insurance policy, a beneficiary of a savings account, a beneficiary in a will, a beneficiary in a trust. All of those are places where a person could receive funds from someone else and they would be indicated as being the beneficiary.
what is an executor?
An executor is a person that is appointed by the decedent prior to dying of course. In their will to be the person who will be in charge of putting together the assets in the will and then also distributing to the people who are the beneficiaries in the will.
why should a person have an executor?
Well, you should select an executor and also a person who could be a substitute or secondary executor if the first one is not available to serve. The reason you would want to have someone as an executor is you could make the selection as to who that person was. So, it could be someone who you have as a trusted advisor that you know would be able to be of help to the beneficiaries that you want to get the assets and/or the money.
what is the role of a lawyer?
To help the executor marshal the assets in the estate and file in court so that the surrogate to approve the executor as being (a) the person who will go ahead and distribute the assets and also put the assets together and to the end of the process involving distributing the funds through the will or without a will, they would also assist the person who's the executor of the estate to put together an accounting to the surrogate court for the surrogate or the judge's approval.
what is the best way to choose an executor?
Every person determines who they want to give their assets to when they pass away and generally speaking, those people are kind of naturally known to the average person so you frequently, their children, grandchildren, brothers, and sisters, of the decedent who most of the time are the recipients, but the person who created the will can determine whomever they want to be the beneficiary. Sometimes there might be a dispute about that where for example, the husband or spouse tries to cut off their spouse from receiving any distribution. That is not permissible in New York State law. The spouse must always receive either 50 percent of the person who die's estate. That called the decedent, the person who died. 50 percent of the decedent's estate or $50,000.00, whichever is more.
In terms of how to pick an executor that again is up to each individual and it should be a person who more than likely will be alive after the decedent has gone, the person putting together the estate is dead and that executor should be someone who is a trusted person who will, in fact, follow the directions of the person who died and also the directions of the attorney that they are using to navigate the court system for them.