Choosing the executor of your estate is one of the first steps in drafting your will. It's important to select someone in whom you have confidence and trust, as well as someone who takes the responsibility of being the executor or your estate seriously. If you consult an attorney for help with estate planning, she will guide you through a series of questions to assist you in selecting the executor of your estate. However, if you prepare your own will, make sure you have the necessary information that will help you make the right choice.
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Learn what's expected of the executor of your estate. An executor is responsible for much more than simply fulfilling the decedent's fiduciary duties. A qualified executor should be able to understand legal processes and procedures, and have good verbal and written communication skills in order to interact with lawyers, clients, creditors and mourning family members.
Look within your family for someone you consider extremely trustworthy. Because the executor of your estate is also responsible for activities such as taking inventory of your personal and business assets, preparing tax-related documentation and legal filings, and attending meetings or court hearings for probate matters, also consider the person's organizational skills, self-discipline and attention to detail.
Consider someone from your circle of acquaintances if you don't have a family member who you feel is capable of handling the role. Your potential executor must have a number of traits necessary to carry out your wishes. However, you may be inclined to focus on trustworthiness as the most important one because this is something that involves your personal and family matters.
Determine the likelihood of your will being contested. If you feel that there may be some controversy between beneficiaries, consider selecting an executor far removed from family or business relationships. The American Bar Association notes that engaging a paid executor removes potential conflict of interest by picking someone who doesn't stand to gain from the will.
Finalize your choice by talking with the executor you chose. Explain the intent of your will, your wishes and any information you deem necessary to fulfill the role of executor. Incorporate your selection into your will, and if you feel it's necessary, repeat the process to name a co-executor or someone who will fulfill the duties in the event your first selection is unable to handle the executor's duties.
Tips & Warnings
- Preparing a will, selecting an executor and managing other estate planning duties requires compliance with laws with which you may not be familiar. Check with your attorney if you have questions or concerns.
References & Resources
- Forbes.com: Chose the Right Executor
- American Bar Association: ABA Guide to Wills and Estates: Chapter 10: Choosing the Executor or Trustee
- AARP: Estate Planning: Choosing Your Executor or Trustee
- "The New York Times": Strategies: Choosing the Right Person to Manage Your Will
- Business Courier: Will Power: Picking An Executor, Trustee Requires Logic Before Emotion
- MSN Money: Fast Answers: Retirement & Wills
- New York Life: Overview of the Probate Process
- Legacy Connect: What is an Estate Executor?
- MSN Money: Executors Can Inherit an Unholy Mess
- New York City Bar: What is an Executor?
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