The person who manages your estate after you’re gone – your executor – plays the most important role when it comes to ensuring that your carefully planned estate is adhered to. For this reason, you’ll want to be very careful when selecting who will fulfill this responsibility.
Fortunately, by following the advice below, you can avoid common mistakes and choose your best executor:
Make sure your executor is old enough but not too old: Your executor needs to be at least 18 years of age to sign important legal documents, so make sure your executor is old enough. The older the person is, the better – because older individuals have more life experience – but you should try to select an executor who may not pass away before you do, statistically speaking, and has sufficient health and energy to carry the responsibility. So, don’t select someone who may be “too old” for the task.
Name additional options for your executor: If your executor dies before or during your estate administration process, you’ll need to have an extra option to take over. For this reason, you should always name two back-up executors in your estate documentation.
Choose someone with business acumen: Depending on the complexity of your estate, it’s possible that your executor will need to manage a lot of different issues pertaining to real estate, business accounts, accounting, taxes, debts, investments, insurance products and more. Don’t assign someone to serve as an executor if these kinds of topics will be new or confusing for the person.
Select an “emotionally stable” individual: We all have a family member who flies off the handle into an emotional fit of stress, sadness or rage in the face of the slightest issue. This person probably has his or her strengths, but an ability to handle business issues that require a focused and rational mind may not be one of them. Make sure your executor is emotionally stable in this regard.
If you’re having trouble selecting a suitable executor for your estate plan, you could always name a trusted professional, such as a banker, investment adviser, accountant or lawyer to serve as your executor. Although this would be an additional expense for your estate, in some cases, it could be well worth the cost.