Choosing an executor is an important part of creating an estate and/or a will. An executor is the person who has been put in charge of administering the terms and assets of a will or estate. It’s an important position and choosing the right person for the job is crucial for multiple reasons, the most important being that it helps ensure a smoother process for administering your estate.
If you are beginning the process of choosing an executor for your estate, here is what you need to know.
Electing a Family Member, Friend, or Hiring it Out
You do not have to have a direct family member or friend act as the executor on your estate. Most states allow you to hire out the position to an attorney or a company that specializes in managing and administering estates. The payment for this service can come out of your estate. If you do not have a close family member or friend, consider working with an attorney to manage the estate or hire it out to a certified company.
Make Trust the Top Issue
The most important thing you can do when choosing an executor is select someone you can trust. While executors are bound by the terms of the will and estate that you create, meaning they cannot change who receives assets, they play a large part in overseeing the distribution of those assets. You want to choose someone you can trust to manage the process efficiently and in an organized manner. Choosing someone who is not fit for the job can delay the process of administering your assets to beneficiaries, creating trouble for your family and friends. Make sure the person you choose is organized, reliable, and ready and willing to accept the position and the responsibility that comes with it.
Take Age and Health into Account
You will make this decision well before it comes time to administer your estate, so it’s usually a good idea to choose someone younger and in good health, ensuring that they will be ready and willing to administer the estate when the time comes. While this is by no means a requirement, it’s usually a good idea to consider the age and health of the person you choose to avoid trouble later.
If Choosing Co-Executors, Consider Compatibility
You don’t have to choose a single person to act as the executor of your estate; you can choose two people to act as co-executors. If you choose to go this route, consider the compatibility of the two people who will be carrying out your will. They will have to work together to administer your estate, so they should be able to work closely together. Try to avoid choosing two people who have a particularly “rocky” history or do not get along with one another. You can also choose a primary executor as well as a “backup” person who can act as a successor should the first person become unable to fulfil their role.
Make Sure They are in Good Financial Standing
When you choose an executor, that person or entity can be required to obtain a certain type of insurance (known as a surety bond) before they administer your estate. This insurance provides protection to your beneficiaries in the event that the executor mismanages the estate.
This insurance is provided by a surety company that will assess the risk of the person you choose to be an executor. One of the major red flags they look for when assessing that risk is financial troubles. These can include tax issues, bankruptcy, convictions of felonies or financial crimes, etc. Try to avoid choosing a person the surety will deem as high risk, as they may choose to not provide a bond for your case.
Keep in mind that if the will is validly executed, the court may not require a bond. However, beneficiaries can ask for a bond to be required by the court. In this case, the person who has been selected to be the executor will have to obtain one.
Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need legal counsel, please contact an attorney directly.
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