In the past few weeks, we’ve talked about the importance of a will and how to avoid some common estate-planning mistakes. We’ve also covered the fiduciary role, so you know it’s important to choose the right person when you are picking people to handle your money or will. But how do you choose an executor for your estate or will?
It can be a stressful decision. First, you know you are about to ask someone to take on a big task, and you might feel like you are asking too much of them. Second, you really want to ask a person that you know will follow through on both the letter and spirit of your wishes. This means you might lean toward a close friend or relative.
When choosing an executor, you must consider not only the person’s loyalty and likelihood of following through with your wishes, but also the person’s skills with money and details. An executor usually needs to be someone who can deal with complex financial matters. They will need to ensure final tax returns are filed and follow the legal steps to execute the estate. Luckily, they can turn to the lawyer who prepared your documents for some assistance if needed, or can seek their own lawyer for help with the estate administration process.
It’s worth nothing that you can choose more than one executor. You should have a backup plan should something happen to your first choice, but you might also choose two people to act as co-executors. This can reduce the stress on each person and also allow them to work together using two different skill sets.
Source: Fidelity, “Choosing an Executor, Health Care Proxy, & Others,” accessed May 13, 2016