Once you have made some decisions about how you want your estate to be handled, you need to designate someone to carry out your wishes as your executor.
While a lot of people simply pick their oldest child for the job, that’s not always the wisest move. It’s a big job, and putting the wrong person in charge could be a burden on them and put your legacy in danger.
Questions to ask before you name an executor
You can make an informed decision when you designate an executor by considering the following questions:
- Are they willing and able to take on the role? You should always make certain that your chosen party feels comfortable with the responsibilities you’re asking them to accept. Opening and settling an estate can also be a time-consuming, complicated process. You don’t want to pick anybody whose life is already so busy that they simply have no extra time or energy to spare.
- Do they have any issues that would prevent them from being bonded? A bond is a type of insurance that makes sure that the estate and other interested parties are compensated for any losses caused by the executor’s failure to uphold their fiduciary duties. If your chosen party has a history of financial crimes or is heavily in debt, they may not be able to secure a bond.
- Are they young and healthy? Even if you fully intend to name your spouse as the executor of your estate, you need a backup plan in case you both die in a common accident or your spouse precedes you. At least one person you name should be young and healthy so that you have a reasonable expectation that they’ll outlive you.
- Are they able to work with your beneficiaries? You know your family best. Don’t put an adult child in charge of your estate if you know they can’t get along with their siblings. Don’t put your sister in charge of your estate if she tends to be abrupt and antagonistic when questioned. You want someone who is personable, communicative and able to keep drama to a minimum.
With all that in mind, think long and hard about who you choose to be your executor or your alternative executor. Seeking experienced legal guidance can make it easier to understand what an executor does and who in your life is best suited for the role.