When a person makes a Will, he or she names an executor (male), executrix (female) or personal representative to take charge of the estate. If there is an issue of greediness, your father may wish to name an independent person rather than a family member to take control of his estate. An independent person would not be a beneficiary or the husband or wife of a beneficiary. An independent person should be someone who will not be influenced by a beneficiary. Banks, accountants and attorneys often are nominated as executors. Your parents should contact an attorney and express their concerns
As a general rule, if someone has a named beneficiary on an asset, that asset would pass directly to the person named as the beneficiary. A Will does not need to be probated for that purpose. Having said that, naming beneficiaries on assets as a planning strategy is a risky way to plan an estate. What happens if one of those beneficiaries dies? That asset now becomes an asset that needs to be probated so that it can legally pass to someone. This is where the Will is required that names beneficiaries. The Will also names an Executor who can then be appointed by the Clerk of Court in the County where the decedent died to have legal authority over that asset. Without a Will then it would pass based on North Carolina Statutes...and that is not always the plan that decedent would have wanted. I would suggest speaking with an experienced Estate Planning attorney to discuss Dad's estate to make certain his wishes are followed.
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I agree with my colleagues. If you are going to have a probate estate, then having an executor is necessary. It also helps in cases where there are family members that are difficult to deal with. This is one of the factors that would affect the determination of what planning tools to use, because if you are seeing potential issues now, they seldom go away or improve, once there is a family crisis.
It also points to the need for even more estate planning. In addition to a possible Will or Trust, your parents absolutely need durable power of attorney forms for medical and financial matters. This will put a trustworthy person in charge, in the event that your parents ever become incapacitated. It can also prevent a greedy sibling from trying to get a head start on their inheritance at the expense of a parent.
All of these forms are best prepared by an attorney who can interview your parents extensively and help them determine which planning options will work best for your family.
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