When working on your estate plan, one of the hardest things that you may have to do is choose the person that will be your will's executor. Many people tend to, by default, choose the closest person to them, often a relative. However, this is not always the wisest decision. The executor has important responsibilities upon your incapacitation, so it is important that you make an informed decision. To do this, you need to understand what the executor's duties will be and what personal characteristics you should be looking for in an executor.
What Does an Executor Do?
When you select a personal representative of your will, you are choosing a special individual to essentially be in charge of an assortment of tasks that will determine how your assets are handled upon your passing. Some of these tasks include:
- Filing Paperwork with the Probate Court – The executor will be required to determine what the necessary paperwork is that needs to be filed and file it with the appropriate county court (either where the property is owned or where you died).
- Send Out Notifications – The executor will be required to notify certain individuals, such as creditors and beneficiaries, throughout the probate process.
- Inventory and Manage Assets – The executor will be required to go through assets, determine which ones should be a part of the probate estate and inventory them as deemed necessary. Then, until the transfer has been made, the executor will be responsible for protecting the assets.
- Defending the Will – The executor will be required to secure legal representation if the will is challenged.
This is only a brief insight into the tasks that an executor must handle, so it is important that you choose someone who is willing to handle the workload that will be brought down upon them.
What Personal Characteristics Should an Executor Possess?
As you think about the people in your life that may be willing to handle the aforementioned tasks, you will want to take into consideration some of these personal characteristics in the individuals that you are considering.
- Honesty – Your executor, above all else, should be someone that is honest, trustworthy, and loyal. He or she should be someone that you can count on to carry out your wishes.
- Attention to Detail – Due to the fact that there are so many steps that must be taken throughout the entire process and so many tasks to be done, it is important that the executor is someone that is responsible and attentive.
- Business or Investment Knowledge – Although this is not necessary, it doesn't hurt if the executor you choose is somewhat financial savvy.
If you have questions about choosing an executor or have already selected one and simply need assistance in finalizing the paperwork, reach out to an estate planning law firm like Thomason & Hessmer.