When you are going through the work of sitting down with your attorney and crafting your estate plan, there are a lot of decisions to make. It can be challenging to figure out how to divide your assets among all of your children and other loved ones in a fair way. One of the most important decisions – and sometimes one of the most difficult – is who among your close friends or family members you want to name as the executor of your estate.
What does an executor do?
Being an executor is a tremendous job that entails considerable responsibility. Thus, designating an executor is not a decision to make hastily. Most people prefer their spouse to be their executor if they survive them, or their eldest child if their spouse predeceases them. But sometimes that person may not be the most effective or reliable person for the job.
An executor has a variety of duties involved in wrapping up the estate of the deceased. First, they will be in charge of rounding up all of your assets. This includes tangible assets, such as your house, but it also includes intangibles such as your bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks and other investments.
Next, they will have to track down any debtors that you owe money to and satisfy those debts out of your estate. If there isn’t enough money to satisfy all your debts, they may need to be a party to litigation to sort out priority of payment.
Finally, the executor will have to distribute your property in accordance with your will. If someone challenges your will, such as a child who feels that they should be entitled to more of your estate, your executor will have to stand in for you and defend your estate in that lawsuit as well. They’ll also have to report to the court or to your other beneficiaries how they are managing your estate.
How do I choose an effective executor?
Being an executor can be time consuming and stressful no matter the size of the estate. The bigger your estate and the more diverse your assets are, the more the complexity of the job increases. They might even need to hire a probate attorney to assist them in executing the estate plan.
Thus, it’s imperative that you choose someone who is responsible enough to carry out the duties well, and who has enough time to do the job right. It’s always a good idea to name several alternates who can take over the job in case the person you originally name is unable or unwilling to accept the responsibility. That way, you can avoid the situation of the court nominating someone who you would not have chosen, and who won’t be as effective.
There are a lot of factors to consider when putting together your estate plan. Making sure you nominate someone who will execute your estate thoroughly and according to your wishes is one of the most important pieces for you to decide.