12 Marissa Bagasra — How to Discern Whether or Not You Should Assume the Role of Executor

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On our twelfth episode of #ProbateNavigated we stop by to visit with Marissa Bagasra.

Marissa R. Bagasra is an associate with SmolenPlevy. She is a member of the Bars in Virginia and Maryland. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Bagasra was a law clerk for John H. Rust, Jr., Commissioner of Accounts for Fairfax County. Ms. Bagasra is a member of the Virginia Bar Association, Fairfax Bar Association, and Virginia Women Attorneys Association. Her practice areas include estate planning, estate administration, and probate litigation.

I very much enjoyed our discuss together. In this episode Marissa covers a range of important topics including how to evaluate whether or not you should undertake the role of executor, what the implications of being an executor are, how to assess the complexity of your estate, mistakes to avoid and more. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

How to evaluate whether or not you should undertake the role of executor

  1. Is this something that you want to do? Undertaking the role of an executor is a “want to do” not a “have to do.”

  2. How much time can you give to this? Being a fiduciary comes with a significant time commitment.

  3. Can you act impartially? You must treat everyone the same.

  4. Is your appointment as an executor in the best interest of the estate? Are you the best one in the family to take on this role?

How to assess the complexity or your estate

  1. Understand that every estate will be different

  2. Get a strong grasp of assets vs liabilities through gathering all relevant documents and information re: the estate

  3. You won’t know until you quality, get a credit report, until you search unclaimed property and enough time has passed that you have sufficient knowledge of assets and liabilities.

What are the implications of assuming this role?

  1. When you become an executor in VA you are taking on the responsibility to ensure that all of the decedent’s assets are distributed appropriately.

  2. Once an executor always an executor. You remain responsible for the estate for life. In general you need to be prepared that you are responsible for this person’s assets for the foreseeable future.

  3. As executor you are responsible for filing any tax returns for the decedent.

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  1. Qualifying as an executor too early before having an understanding of the assets and liabilities of an estate. Every case is different but there is no rush. As a general rule of thumb you have time. Gather the mail, talk with family, speak with a professional then make the decision whether or not you should qualify and when

  2. Executors in VA are rightfully entitled to compensation for their work. However, the way compensation is calculated is complex. Consult with your attorney or commissioner of accounts before compensation is given

  3. Paying creditors too early or in the wrong priority. If an estate is in any danger of having more debts to assets you have to be very, very careful with the money that goes out of that estate account. There are parameters for paying creditors and in what order. Wait to pay creditors until you have a full picture of your situation.

Alternatives of Being an Executor:

  1. Review the will to determine if there is a successor named in the will

  2. If there is no will then the closest heir at law is the individual that has priority to serve. Generally a spouse or child. Beyond this it goes up and out of the family tree.

  3. One can waive their right to qualify to another individual or to a corporate entity.

Important Tip:

  1. You’re dealing with grief, family and money. When these things come together it can be very difficult. It is better to proceed with caution than go full steam ahead in haste.

You can visit the Commissioner of Accounts Site here



You can download the FREE Guide to the Administration of Decedent’s Estates in Virginia here

You can connect with Marissa below:

P | (703) 790–1900

E | mrbagasra@smolenplevy.com

W | https://smolenplevy.com

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