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Why a bank makes a great executor for your estate

Family sitting at kitchen island

Once you’ve decided who your worldly possessions should go to, you need to decide who will be in charge of distributing them. It’s no easy choice. You want someone who is honest, responsible, organized and financially savvy.

Often people turn to family members or, if no family is available, a trusted friend. A bank, however, can be an excellent choice, and our bank has had a long history of successfully adhering to our clients’ wishes after they’re gone.

These frequently asked questions will give you some more insight:

What are the advantages to having a bank act as executor of my estate?

Our bank administers estates every day. Individuals such as family members, meanwhile, might become an executor only once or twice in a lifetime. Because we are well-versed in the process, we understand the laws, especially the tax laws, to keep the execution of an estate moving. Ohio has rigid probate deadlines for when certain things must be filed, and a simple estate should be settled within six months or less. A corporate executor, like a bank, will adhere to those timelines to ensure everything is filed on time.

A bank also never gets sick, takes a vacation or faces a life change – any of which can interrupt an individual executor’s role. Because the bank has no ties to the outcome of the estate, it can act impartially. An individual executor who is a family member or has close ties to the decedent might have a harder time settling disputes or maintaining impartiality, especially if he or she is a beneficiary of the estate. Our bank understands how beneficiaries’ needs and concerns sometimes require a high level of patience and sensitivity.

Estates also can be complex, with a variety of assets including personal property, stocks and bonds, life insurance, investment real estate, unique investments such as artwork or a family business interest. Our bank has the experience handling all these types of assets and holdings.

It is important for an executor to have knowledge of financial markets, especially if monetary assets are placed in a trust and expected to grow over time. With our bank, you get an executor that has an entire department devoted to making smart investment decisions.

What can I expect to pay for a corporate executor?

Ohio state law sets the maximum that an executor can charge, whether it’s a corporate or individual executor. It is generally a percentage of the gross total value of the estate and depends on the value of the assets and whether the executor must sell any assets or simply pass them on to your beneficiaries. By state law, a corporate executor won’t be able to charge any more than a family member might charge for performing the same duties.

Will a corporate executor hire an attorney for me?

We will usually hire an attorney to help an estate file any probate forms, even though we gather and value all of an estate’s assets, handle all the money, pay all the bills, notify agencies of the death, complete final tax returns and file all court accountings. We know what items need to go to probate and which don’t. Corporate executors work with the attorneys to keep the process moving, and the court must approve all attorney fees.

Can the bank and an individual of my choosing share executor duties?

Yes. They might share in the decision-making depending how the parties decide to structure the arrangement. Often our bank will handle most of the day-to-day work, but a family member or confidante might help oversee the process.

One disadvantage might be if the co-executors disagree and can’t settle their differences. A probate judge would have to settle the dispute, increasing the legal fees for the estate. That’s money that isn’t going to the beneficiaries.

If the bank is acting executor, can it settle an estate outside Ohio?

It would depend on the state. Each state’s laws dictate who can be executors. Talk to one of our estate-planning professionals if this arrangement interests you.

Can your bank step in as executor if my family member or trusted friend decides not to do it after my death?

Yes, your executor can come to the bank, fill out a resignation form and sign paperwork to transfer executor power to the bank.

What if my chosen executor dies or becomes incapacitated before my estate is settled? Can the bank step in?

If you named the bank as successor executor, we would step in upon the death or incapacity of the previous executor. If you didn’t name a successor executor and your initial executor is incapacitated or deceased, at your death the probate court would then step in to name an executor. The court might choose a family member, or it may decide to name a corporate executor, such as our bank, to act as executor.

How do I get started?

Talk to our local trust professionals to see how our expertise and services can best meet your needs. Or call us at 740-349-3900 and let us know you’re interested in estate management.


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