Contibuted by Edvard Ryder. Who do you trust with your life? Is it your spouse, a sibling or your best friend? Is this the person you’d trust to carry out your wishes when you die? That’s what an executor is – a person or company named in your will to carry out or “execute your final wishes. It’s an important role and one that can be very involved depending on the size of your estate, especially if you owned all or part of a business. He or she will be required to fill out forms, attend various meetings, help your family, and more.
Given the duties, it’s important that you select the right person(s) – someone who’s up to the task, detail-oriented and willing to get financial and legal advice for the more complex matters. Here are some things to think about when selecting your executor.
Trust – Select someone who will carry out your requests as you described them in your will and hold true to your wishes. If your will is not complicated and family members are the beneficiaries, it’s fairly common to name your spouse as executor. If you are naming more than one person, such as adult children, it’s important that they get along. If they can’t agree now, it’s highly likely to create more conflict when it comes to the will. If you are a business owner, it’s generally not advisable to name your partner as an executor.
Age – Depending on how old you are when you select your executor, you may wish to choose someone who is older or younger then you. In any case, they must be of legal age to apply for letters probate.
Time – Executing a will is a big commitment – from months to years depending on the complexity of your estate, the number of family members or multiple marriages. Your executor needs to have the time to gather legal documents, manage any remaining debts, make a list of your assets, meet with lawyers, etc.
Knowledge – It’s not necessary for your executor to be a financial expert, as long as they are mature enough to contact other professionals such as an estate lawyer or tax accountant.
Once you have decided who you want to be your executor, it’s important to ask them if they are willing to take on this responsibility – they may say no. This alone is a good reason to choose a backup. IT’s also a good idea in case your primary choice is unable to complete the task of an unanticipated reason. It’s also a good idea to let your advisor know who your executor is because they will need to connect once you have passed away to settle your finances.