Role of the Executor

by Maureen E. Hook, Ph.D.

Have you ever been asked to serve as the executor (male)/executrix (female) of an estate? It’s extremely flattering to be asked to serve in this capacity, because it represents a level of trust and confidence in your capabilities, both on a personal basis and on a technical level. According to Chris Heilmann and Colin Korzec of U.S. Trust, “while the executor’s core responsibilities have changed little over the past century, fulfilling those responsibilities has grown more complicated.” Before volunteering, these are some things to consider as recommended by these two executives at U.S. Trust.

First of all, the role has become more complicated due to the era of digital data. Whereas in the past, all of one’s personal records could be collected and stored in one place, the computer age has made it more difficult for a second party to access all of one’s information unless that named individual has user names and passwords. Also, is it ethical to access certain things like email for another person without violating the terms of use agreement for that provider?

Secondly, the modern American family is more complex and diverse with blended families from remarriage being quite common. How are all these members kept informed of what the executor/executrix is doing? The larger the family, the more likely there is to be a divergence of opinion about how various issues should be handled.

There is a remedy, however, to these problems. As the executor/executrix, you have the right to appoint co-executors who may have the requisite technical skills and investment knowledge that you lack. Another approach, which allows the executor/executrix to retain full control, is to appoint an agent to assist in the areas in which guidance is needed. With a complicated estate or one with considerable net worth, it is probably best to seek assistance from an experienced elder law attorney or from a trust department of a bank or an entity like U.S. Trust. Mr. Heilmann and Mr. Korzec caution that …”missed deadlines may disqualify the estate from certain tax-minimization strategies and expose it to interest charges and penalties. These losses can even result in personal financial liability for the executor.”

In short, there is much to consider when serving as an executor/executrix of an estate. When one is aware of the complexity of the role, one can make an informed decision about how one should proceed.


Kit Kat

Ask Kit Kat: Horror for Horses

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, can you tell us what is causing a horror for horses?’

Kit Kat:  Yes, I certainly can. Though slaughtering of horses for their meat has been discontinued in the US since 2007, the practice still occurs in our neighbors, Mexico and Canada. Sly providers in the US transport the horses to one of these countries for slaughter, and then for shipment of the meat to Europe and Japan, where horsemeat is consumed by people. The ASPCA is hoping to stop this odious practice by lobbying Congress to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act. This ban would apply to international and interstate transport of horses intended for slaughter with the intent of becoming food. The law has come up several times previously for passage, but to date has not been approved.

There are several problems with killing horses and using them as food. First of all, it’s not really safe for humans to consume present-day horsemeat. Horses are generally raised to race or to be beasts of burden. In both cases, they are administered medicines which are toxic to humans, if they enter a human’s bloodstream. Such things as phenylbutazone (horse aspirin), dewormers, and fly sprays can be very damaging to humans.

Second, there are other options for horses who become too old or infirm to function profitably as a work animal. According to the USDA, up to 92% of the horses sent to slaughter are actually in good health, and could live out their lives like any other aging being. However, those wanting to take in the animals in the twilight of their lives can’t pay the price of a commercial interest.

Finally, to transport horses long distances is not an easy proposition. They often suffer along the route, rubbing into stalls and becoming injured, not being exercised, etc. Once they arrive at the slaughterhouse, the methods of putting them down sometimes backfire, and it takes repeated tries to make them finally succumb.

So, our reading public, you may not even have been aware of these issues. Now that you are, do everything you can to support the ASPCA which is doing all in its power to finally end this horrific practice.

(“Horse Slaughter-Separating Fact from Fiction,” ASPCA Action, Spring/Summer 2015 p. 6-10)

Upcoming Seminars and Events

  • July 30 & 31, 2015 –The HLC Monthly Seminar for July is scheduled at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 30th in Harbour View and at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, July 31st  in Virginia Beach.  The topic will be announced soon!   To preregister and reserve your seat for the July seminar, please call 757-399-7506 and ask for Debbie or register online at hooklawcenter.com/seminars.
  • August 12, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking to a group at Maryview Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia.August 20, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking on Veterans Benefits at The Chesapeake.
  • August 21, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking to a group at DePaul Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia.
  • August 27, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking to a group at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, Virginia.
  • September 9, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking at a Virginia Continuing Legal Education seminar.
  • October 26, 2015Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro will be speaking at the National Business Institute’s seminar on The Probate Process from Start to Finish in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Distribution of This Newsletter

Hook Law Center encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Hook Law Center, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Hook Law Center News, then please telephone us at 757-399-7506, e-mail us at mail@hooklawcenter.com or fax us at 757-397-1267.