When you’re putting your estate plans together, you have a lot of decisions that you need to make – not the least of which is who you want to name as your executor.
Your executor is the person who is ultimately responsible for making sure that your wishes are followed, including opening probate (when necessary), paying your final debts and overseeing the distribution of your assets to your heirs. If you pick the right person for the job, that can be a huge comfort to your family in the immediate wake of your passing. If you don’t, you can end up leaving your family to manage a lot of unnecessary challenges.
How do you pick the right person? Here are some tips that are worth considering.
Choose someone with solid financial standing
If your estate needs to go through probate, the court may require your executor to be bonded as a form of insurance. Anybody with a lot of bills in collection or a poor credit history could find themselves unable to be bonded and ineligible to serve as your executor, no matter what their other qualifications.
Pick someone whom you believe to be smart and responsible
Even if you have a fairly large and complicated estate, your executor doesn’t have to be an accountant or an attorney to handle the job – but they do need to have enough sense to know if and when they may need to hire an accountant or an attorney to help. Pick someone who is savvy enough to know their own limits and responsible enough to ask for guidance.
Pick someone who won’t create unnecessary drama
This is absolutely not the time to try to force your two adult sons to work together by naming them co-executors if they despise each other. You don’t want to create a situation that could aggravate personality conflicts and revive (or create) hard feelings during a time when emotions are already running high. It’s often better to name a neutral third party as an executor, instead of one of the heirs.
Because estate plans can have a lot of moving parts, experienced legal guidance can help you avoid a lot of pitfalls. This includes guidance in re: choosing an executor.