Deciding to make a last will and testament is a big step, but the process of drafting this document will involve making several more decisions along the way. One of those decisions involves choosing a person or entity to be the executor of your will.
The executor of your will is tasked with managing your final financial obligations. This can involve numerous tasks, such as tracking down your assets and liabilities, maintaining your property, paying claims against the estate, making court appearances and distributing your assets according to your will.
Select someone you trust
Because the executor will be managing all aspects of your estate, you should choose someone you trust with that information. For straightforward wills, you might consider choosing a spouse, sibling or adult child.
Generally, your choice should be someone who is honest and has good communication skills. He or she should also be someone who is mature enough to handle the associated responsibilities, but who is expected to outlive you.
Make sure your executor has the required skills
Although family members are often chosen to serve as executors, the American Bar Association recommends thinking of the role as employment, rather than a reward. You should choose someone who has many of the skills needed to complete the duties of an executor.
Typically, the skills an executor will need, include:
- Attention to detail
- Physical proximity to the assets
- Financial skills
Professionals can offer assistance
Some of your executor’s tasks may be quite complicated, and he or she could be personally liable for any mistakes that are made. However, your executor can use money from your estate to hire professionals to help her or her with the duties.
If you have a large estate or you are worried your loved ones are prone to squabbles, you might consider selecting a professional instead of a family member to serve as your executor. An attorney or a bank will not have the same personal conflict that a family member might, which may reduce the chance that your will is contested.
There are many factors you can consider when determining who should serve as the executor of your will. However, it is important to remember that everyone’s situation is unique, so who you choose as executor is ultimately up to you.