Choosing Your Executor
As you plan your estate, you will need to choose someone to manage your affairs after you’re gone. This person is usually called an “executor.” It’s a big job: gathering all of your information and assets, paying your bills and other obligations, preserving the value of your estate, and making sure your wishes are carried out. It is important to choose someone you trust to be fair to your heirs and someone who has the skills and time required to administer your estate.
Here are some tips for choosing an executor:
- Consider your relationship with the person. Often, your surviving spouse or another family member is a good choice, but there could be advantages to selecting someone who is not so closely involved with your family.
- Think about the person’s skills and experience. Your executor will manage your estate, pay bills, collect debts, and distribute assets. Choose someone who is organized, detail-oriented and has good financial skills.
- Consider the person’s availability. Your executor will need to devote time and energy to take on responsibilities which may include working with the probate court, hiring professionals and dealing with difficult family members.
- Get the person’s consent. Don’t let this be a surprise! Once you’ve chosen an executor, you should talk to them about the job and make sure they are willing to take on this responsibility.
The characteristics of a good executor include:
- Honesty and integrity: Your executor must be honest and trustworthy. You are entrusting them with managing your assets and distributing them to your beneficiaries after you are gone.
- Organization and attention to detail: Your executor should be organized and detail-oriented. They will be responsible for keeping track of lots of details and making sure that necessary tasks are completed.
- Communication skills: Your executor will need to be able to communicate effectively with beneficiaries, family members and the probate court. They will need to explain your wishes and keep everyone informed.
- Time commitment: Your executor will need to be able to commit the time required to manage your estate, which could take a year or more.
Here are some common executors:
- Spouse: Often, your surviving spouse is a logical choice. Your spouse is familiar with your finances and your wishes, and they are motivated to carry out your plans.
- Child: A child can also be a good choice for executor. They are likely to be familiar with your finances and your wishes, and they may be more willing to take on the responsibility than a friend or other relative.
- Trusted friend: A trusted friend can also be a good choice for an executor. They are likely to be familiar with your wishes, and they may be more objective than a family member.
- Professional executor: A professional executor is someone who specializes in handling estates. They can be a good choice if you have a complex estate or if you want to make sure that your wishes are carried out.
As you consider your executor, it’s important to talk to your attorney to make sure you understand the responsibilities of the job and to get help choosing the right person.
This article is not intended as legal advice.
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