As you plan ahead for the future a few things may come to your attention that you never thought of before. For instance, when you create a last will and testament you may not realize that you also need to choose an executor of the will.
When my father-in-law decided to update his will he named my husband the executor. He knew my husband would carry out his wishes no matter what they were because that was the right thing to do. And of course, my husband accepted the request to act as executor with little to no hesitation since the family farm and estate mean a lot to him.
But when he took on that responsibility neither of us fully knew what it meant. We had an idea of what an executor is, but no personal knowledge. Luckily, my husband hasn’t had to fulfill his duty as executor yet. We’ve had time to digest everything and get a better idea of what the executor does and what goes into finding the right person for the role. Here’s an overview of what we’ve learned.
The Role of an Executor
An executor is a person who carries out the instructions of a will and/or oversees the process following the rule of law. The executor carries out a number of duties in relation to carrying out the will. Simply locating the will can be the first challenge an executor faces.
Before you accept a request to be someone’s executor make sure you know what all it involves and the state laws.
5 Tips for Choosing an Executor
Choosing an executor isn’t always easy. Most people name their living spouse, but not everyone is in that situation. When you are in the process of selecting someone to be your executor keep these considerations in mind.
1. Choose Someone Who is Organized
Carrying out a will involves a lot of moving parts, and the executor has to go through a lot of paperwork. It’s also highly advisable to keep records of everything along the way. The more organized the executor is the easier the process will be for everyone.
2. Pick a Person That Knows Most or All of the Beneficiaries
The executor will need to be in contact with beneficiaries. A person who is active in your family or social group and already has most of your beneficiaries as contacts will have an easier time tracking people down and keeping everyone up-to-date.
3. Choose a Person That’s Familiar With the Estate
It also helps if the executor is familiar with most, if not all, of the estate. That way they will understand what asset is being discussed. The executor may also have to value the assets from real estate to jewelry to art so knowing them helps.
4. Select Someone Who Can Take on the Task With Little Notice
Someone may find themselves carrying out their duty as executor very unexpectedly. The person you choose must be able to make executing the will their primary focus at a moment’s notice. They need to be prepared to handle final taxes, settling debts, analyzing liabilities and more in a short amount of time.
5. Pick an Executor That Can Look at Things Logically
Your executor shouldn’t be the type that’s going to get upset about how the assets are to be divided or take things personally. The last thing you want is an executor that starts to question the will’s instructions.
A Word of Advice on Co-Executors
It can be really difficult to choose an executor when you have more than one person in mind. Some people think the best solution is to name them co-executors. In some situations it works out fine, but more often conflict arises at some point.
People can come to disagreements on exactly how something should be carried out or want to micromanage the process. Whenever possible, choose a single executor. It’s a good idea to keep the other person in mind as a backup in the event the executor can’t handle the task.