Estate Planning Lawyer
One of the most important aspects of estate planning is selecting the proper executor for your will. This individual is responsible for making sure that the terms in your will are carried out after your death. An executor has to maintain property, pay the decedent’s outstanding debts, file the decedent’s tax returns and distribute property to heirs. It’s a big job, so it’s important to pick the right person.
Here are some tips for selecting the right executor.
Select Someone Who Is Responsible
As mentioned above, an executor is responsible for many tasks that have to be completed in a timely fashion. Therefore, it is critical to appoint an executor who is aware of these responsibilities and ready to take them on.
Choose Someone Honest
One of the most important qualities to look for in an executor is honesty. An executor will have access to your property and financial accounts. If the executor is dishonest, he or she could steal from the estate and cheat your loved ones out of their inheritances. Even though the court will remove an executor for fraud or embezzlement, it can still cause major damage to the estate.
Pick Someone with Good Communication Skills
Throughout the probate process, the executor may have to talk frequently with heirs. They may want to know when probate will be finished or have another question or concern. That is why it is important to select an executor with good communication skills. He or she should feel comfortable talking to heirs on a regular basis and returning their calls promptly. If the executor doesn’t communicate regularly with heirs, they may become suspicious.
Select Someone in Good Financial Standing
Before you appoint an executor, make sure that the person has his or her finances in order. Those who have declared bankruptcy or have liens against them won’t be able to get bonded. Courts may require bonding as insurance.
Choose an Alternate Executor
If possible, you should have more than one executor in your will. If the first executor you choose can’t take on the role for whatever reason, you want to have a suitable backup.
Pick Someone Impartial
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for heirs to argue with each other during the probate process. Some might feel like they are not getting their fair share. That’s why it is essential to appoint an executor who will remain impartial throughout the entire process. He or she shouldn’t favor any heir over the other. If you can’t find someone who will remain impartial within your family, you may want to appoint a third-party, like a lawyer, as executor.
Before you officially name someone as your executor, you should talk to the person about it. Explain what the role involves and ask if he or she is up for the task.
If you need help with your estate plan, contact an estate planning lawyer — as our friends from Davis, Johnson & Kallal advise.