Serving as someone’s executor, or personal representative, is a big job that comes with many responsibilities. While being chosen is often considered an honor, there is a lot of work involved, and an executor must be organized, pay strong attention to detail, and capable of meeting deadlines. You may be tempted to name someone in your family as your executor in order to avoid hurt feelings, but your family and heirs will not be well served if you choose your executor based on anything other than ability.
You should consider the following:
- Choose someone who is trustworthy. Your executor will have knowledge of all your finances. He will be reviewing estate assets, determining your liabilities and paying off creditors, settling outstanding debts, and making distributions to your named heirs. That’s not the kind of information you want spread around, so you’ll need to choose a person who will be discreet.
- Choose someone who is organized. The person you select will be responsible for a large number of detailed tasks. He will need to make lists of assets, meet court deadlines, and make timely distributions for estate taxes. Not completing these actions in a timely and organized manner can draw out the entire process, costing your heirs time and money.
- Choose someone who is financially knowledgeable.
If you cannot think of a person you can entrust with all of these responsibilities, you should not lose faith. There are other options for you to consider, such as choosing a bank or a financial institution as your executor. Also, you have the option of asking your estate planning attorney to partner with the person you choose as executor to help with the difficult tasks and ensure a smooth probate for all involved.