Planning for your end-of-life needs is something many people tend to put off. It’s an uncomfortable topic that most people would prefer to avoid talking about. However, if you have a spouse, children or grandchildren, having a will and an estate plan is an important part of caring for the future needs of your loved ones.
When you’re creating your will, one of the decisions in the process is choosing an executor. The executor is the person or third party you designate to administer your will according to your wishes after you pass. An executor has considerable responsibilities, so you’ll want to choose wisely.
Duties of an executor
The job of an executor includes:
- Following the laws and deadlines regarding the estate administration.
- Appraising and securing the assets of the deceased.
- Satisfying any debts left by the deceased.
- Distributing the assets according to the directions outlined in the will.
- Handling and paying tax burdens.
- Communicating clearly with the beneficiaries throughout the process of settling the estate.
- Properly closing out the estate.
Who to choose
When choosing an executor, many people tend to choose a trusted family member, but that isn’t always an option, so they choose a friend instead. Whether you choose a family member or a friend, you’ll want to choose a person who’s responsible, trustworthy and organized. A third party such as a bank or trust company can also act as your executor but be sure to research the associated fees and plan accordingly.
With so many responsibilities, keep the following in mind when choosing your executor. The person or organization should be:
- Organized, methodical and willing to give careful thought to the process.
- Willing to ask for professional help as needed. It’s easy to become overwhelmed as an executor, so asking for help is important.
- Willing and able to travel to your location.
When you’ve designated the executor for your will, be sure that the person is in agreement and willing to take on the task. You’ll want to communicate your wishes, notify them about the location of the documents and discuss any other important information. Consulting an attorney is also a good idea to establish the documents you need and ensure you have everything in order.