Choosing an executor as part of your will is an often overlooked step. People naturally choose the oldest child or a sibling they are close to. They often fail to account for the reality of the role of executor. If you have never been in that position yourself, it is easy to underestimate its importance.

The Right Person For The Job

The natural benefit of choosing a loved one is that they generally perform the duties for free. A professional executor, such as a bank or attorney, costs money that reduces the size of the estate. The drawback is that mistakes made by an executor can lead to delays, frustration, mistrust and other hard feelings. Executors can also make mistakes that actually reduce the value of the estate by more than a professional would have charged. It is a big responsibility.

Understanding The Role

In general, an executor will need to gain access to your property to gather important information and valuables. Things like bank records, investment accounts, credit card bills, tax information and more will be vital in fulfilling the requirements of your will. Leaving valuable items on an empty property is an invitation to burglars. After the decedent passes, the executor needs to move quickly to get everything in order.

Executors must accurately account for all assets. This frequently involves the services of an accountant and an attorney. It takes time, organization and attention to detail. The executor must be trustworthy, competent and simply available to put in the necessary hours. This may or may not exclude a person’s family and friends from being the proper choice.

The more information you can share with your executor in advance, the better. Starting from scratch, with no idea of what to look for is a daunting, borderline impossible task. Do your best to choose someone you are comfortable working with and take the time to discuss your wishes and your circumstances before it is too late.

Source: Kiplinger, “5 Things to Do the Moment a Loved One Passes Away,” by Daniel A. Timins, Esq., CFP, 17 April 2018