When choosing the executor of your estate, you may not know where to start. As a suggestion, I recommend selecting one or two (as a backup in case your first choice predeceases you) people with the following characteristics.
Be sure to choose someone who is trustworthy; they will be managing all of your outstanding affairs. Marshalling your assets, paying your bills, settling your outstanding debts, and distributing your assets to your heirs once your estate has been finalized. For this reason, you will also want to select someone who is not under the financial stress of their own creditors or who engages in irresponsible behavior that would tempt them to abuse their position as your fiduciary and use estate resources for their own gain.
Your executor will embark on a journey that on average lasts approximately six to twelve months; therefore, patience is a good quality for them to possess. They will be asked to meet with legal counsel, sign paperwork, and tackle time sensitive matters.
3. Emotionally Grounded.
Grief is a difficult thing for all of us to bear, and it can be especially difficult when also trying to manage an estate; i.e.,making sure all the assets of your loved one have been accounted for, going through their mail and belongings, delivering bequeathed and devised property to the articulated heirs.
As such, someone who is emotionally grounded and not debilitated by natural feelings of grief and loss is a far better choice with respect to selecting an executor than others who may be overcome by such loss.
4. Financially Responsible.
Your executor will not only be tasked with marshalling and securing your assets for safe keeping but they will also need to open a checking account for the estate, manage the check book, work with the estate attorney and accountant to ensure the final tax return is filed appropriately.
5. Objective and Mature.
No matter how thorough your estate plan may have been, sometimes family members disagree with your wishes to the point where they attempt to challenge your wishes in a court of law; i.e., who you appointed as guardians, who is to inherit the largest portion of your estate, etc. For this reason, you will want to have an objective and mature individual as your executor as they will need to meet with the attorney for the estate, review court pleadings, and possibly attend court when necessary.
Remember who you select as the executor of your estate is a personal choice to be made after meaningful reflection. Although you are not required to inform them of your selection, I often recommend you do out of courtesy and for planning sake (the law permits any nominated executor to renounce; therefore leaving the estate attorney to seek out a suitable alternative on your behalf).
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