The executor of a will is the agent charged with carrying out the orders in the decedent's will by taking an inventory of the decedent's assets, distributing inheritances to beneficiaries, paying creditors and probating the will. The person the testator selects should be someone who will act in the best interests of the estate. The agent needs to manage the estate's assets wisely and to execute the will within a reasonable period of time.
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Selecting an Executor
Select the executor for the will. Think carefully about this person, rather than choosing your favorite family member. A good executor is someone who will not only honor your wishes but also will have the time and competence to ensure that your will is properly executed. Someone who has difficulty managing money, or who has a demanding career, or who has mental health problems is unlikely to be an effective executor. Many people choose family members that have backgrounds in law or business.
Hire a professional executor or an estate management company. Many people have difficulty choosing family or friends to execute their wills. A professional will be able to serve as an executor without his emotions interfering with his judgment.
Discuss the role of executor with the person you've selected. Although some people choose to keep the contents of their will sealed, it is generally wise to speak with the executor in advance. It is crucial that she knows where the will is located; ask if she is comfortable performing the duties of executor. You may also wish to give your executor a copy of the will. This copy should be signed and witnessed.
Declaring the Executor
Declare the executor in your will. The language should be succinct and clear. "I hereby nominate "x" person as the executor of this will. If this person is unable or unwilling to serve, I nominate "y" person as an alternate." An online document provider can help you draft a basic will.
Sign and date the will in the presence of at least one other person. Ask that person to sign and date the will. Also ask the witness to sign and date the will. Wills do not need to be notarized, except in the state of Louisiana. However, a notarized will is less likely to be contested successfully. Most banks and post offices have notaries who will notarize your will for a small fee.
Place your will in a location where the executor can easily find it. This location should be safe from fire and floods. A safety deposit box at a bank or a fireproof safe would be sufficient. If a lawyer helped draft the will, ensure that the executor knows the name of the lawyer and that the lawyer has a copy of the will.