Liz Weston: Can leftover money from an estate’s execution go to the executor?
Dear Liz: My best friend made me her executor. She has no relatives. She has listed people to receive money, possessions and her house. She has left me money as well. Once everything is disbursed and bills paid, there will be leftover money. If she wants me to have it, what needs to be written in the trust?
Answer: She will include a phrase that disposes of her residuary estate. After listing specific bequests, she would include a phrase such as “the rest and residue of my estate goes to” followed by the name of the person she wants to have the remaining estate.
This clause isn’t without its problems, however, since receiving the residuary estate could tempt you to stint the other beneficiaries. Keep in mind that as an executor, you have a fiduciary duty to all the beneficiaries, which means you cannot put your own interests first.
Dear Liz: My wife and I have been married for 18 months. I am 67, she is 66. She is not eligible to receive Social Security due to her work history. Is she eligible to receive spousal benefits now, even though I plan to wait until age 70 to receive mine?
Answer: Your wife can’t start spousal benefits until you begin receiving your own benefit. In the past, someone in your position could file a Social Security application and then immediately suspend it. That triggered the spousal benefit while allowing the primary earner’s benefit to continue growing. Congress changed those rules in 2015, however.
Liz Weston, Certified Financial Planner, is a personal finance columnist for NerdWallet. Questions may be sent to her at 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or by using the “Contact” form at asklizweston.com.