Sunday | February 07, 2016
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New book helps coach novice executors, trustees

Hilo native Douglas D. Wilson, who has spent more than four decades handling estates and managing trusts, just completed a second book aimed at simplifying the process for individuals who find themselves placed in the role of executor or trustee.

Wilson, now a resident of Volcano, said “The Everything Executor and Trustee Book” is intended to help the lay person who finds himself in this position after the death of a loved one.

“This is my second book on the subject of settling estates and managing trusts, and I am just as impassioned about providing help to executors and trustees this time around as I was the first,” he explained. “I have a lot of empathy for those who take on this responsibility. Having dealt with estates and trusts for over 40 years, I understand how bewildering it can be.

“As we all know, death and taxes are the two certainties in life. Whether or not we plan properly during our lifetime, things will have to be attended to after we are gone,” added Wilson, a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. “A popular approach to managing one’s estate after death is to name a family member or friend as executor or trustee. People often consider this an honor until they discover what they are responsible for, and then the anxiety sets in along with many questions. A maze of rules and regulations awaits executors and trustees. It can be overwhelming even for someone with a financial background.

“People who find themselves in these roles are usually overwhelmed by the process and don’t have a clue what to do. The job can be huge; it can require a large time commitment, or it can be short and fairly straightforward. Whatever the case, the process will be completely new for most people, and the language used will be foreign.

“My objective in writing this guide is to provide a framework so that any individual executor or trustee will have enough of an understanding to handle the job by himself, or herself, or, at the very least, be able to converse intelligently with advisers while overseeing the process,” said Wilson. “It’s my hope that this book will help relieve some of their anxiety.”

Wilson said one of the things that seems to be common among individual executors and trustees is “they have no idea where to start.” Some might seek legal counsel, but others, hoping to avoid incurring additional costs, will try to handle things on their own, and often end up making a mess, he added.

“Maintaining harmony among family members can also be a challenge when administering an estate, and is often exacerbated when the person in charge doesn’t have a clue what to do,” Wilson said. “Another pitfall unbeknownst to many is that people can be held personally liable for errors, even if unintentional.

“Who wants to get sued, especially if they didn’t want the job in the first place? Many people accept the job without seeking professional help, and if they do, don’t know what questions to ask.”

Wilson said he wrote the two books “to bring all the needed information together in one place to help people get through the process as painlessly as possible, whether they hire professionals to assist them with the work or decide to do it themselves.

“I hope that I have provided a useful resource for those who find themselves in this situation,” said Wilson.

“Executor and Trustee Survival Guide,” his first book, and “The Everything Executor and Trustee Book” are available at


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