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Choosing a good executor is important when creating your will

People often overlook the fact that a will is usually one of the most commonly used estate planning tools. Generally, you will outline in your will the property and assets you currently possess, and how you want those items disposed of after you die.

A last will and testament, commonly referred to simply as a will, does provide that primary function. However, your will should also contain information regarding the people whom you wish to grant authority to handle your affairs. These individuals are known as the executors of your will. A typical will might identify one individual as a primary executor and several others as alternates. Executors are usually tasked with important duties like completing an inventory of your belongings, paying off creditors and settling tax-related issues.

It's important for you to know that your will must be considered legally valid before your executor can gain the authority to carry out your wishes. The following are some of the necessary elements for the proper formation of a will:

-- Most states require that a person creating a will has attained the age of at least 18 years.

-- The person drafting the will must be of sound judgment and have sufficient mental capacity at the time he or she is creating a will. In other words, your will may not survive later challenges if you have some mental impairment that may have affected your judgment when you completed your work on that document.

-- It is absolutely vital that you specify the individuals that you wish to name as executors of your will.

--In order to withstand challenges to the validity of your will, it is important that you sign your completed document while in the presence of two or more people. These individuals can serve as witnesses to bolster the integrity of the document as well as your mental state at the time of signing.

Fortunately, a New York estate planning attorney can also serve as the executor of your will. This can provide you with several benefits. For example, it's likely that your attorney has experience with the potential challenges your will may encounter. Your attorney can help you to avoid many of those pitfalls, including many of which you may not have fully considered.

Source: USA.gov, "Writing a will-knowing the Ins and outs," accessed May. 18, 2015

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    --Robert and Christine Simonson, Fairport
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    --David and Ajia Cherry, Fairport
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    --Kathy and Gary Gray, Webster
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