After working with an attorney to create an estate plan that covers all contingencies, one question remains: Who should be the executor?
This is an important decision, because the executor will administer your estate for you after you pass. In this post, we will look at factors to consider when choosing an executor.
What an executor does
An executor will be in charge of administering your estate. This includes bringing your financial affairs to a close and distributing your assets in accordance with your will. Thus, the executor’s first task will be to identify all assets in your estate – including intangible assets such as bank accounts, retirement accounts and investments.
Then the executor will use estate assets to pay debts and distribute the remainder to your beneficiaries. If anyone challenges the will or brings a lawsuit against your estate, your executor will defend the estate.
Traits of a good executor
A good executor should be reliable and honest. The executor will be in a position of responsibility, so he or she should be someone who would not try to steal from the estate.
The executor must have the time, energy and persistence to devote to the task of administering your estate.
It is sometimes beneficial if the executor already has a positive relationship with your beneficiaries.
If you have two people who are equally qualified to be your executor, you do not have to choose between them.
It is a good idea to name several backup executors in your will, in case your first choice predeceases you, or is otherwise unwilling or unable to perform the duties.
Looking beyond friends or family
Finally, the executor does not need to be a friend or family member. You can choose to have a trust department at a bank, or an attorney administer your estate.
Choosing your executor is not a decision you want to leave up to the court. Choosing the right person for the job can make the difference between a contentious lawsuit and a smooth transition of your estate to your loved ones.