Being an executor of somebody’s estate is a big job, and there are a lot of different things that have to be handled. Far too often, however, people pick their executors based on who is their closest relative – whether that’s a spouse or an adult child – instead of who is actually up to the task.
The emotional aspect of this process can be hard. It’s not likely to be easy to tell your spouse that you think your oldest child would be better at handling the job than they would be (although you can often phrase that in ways that won’t sound critical). It’s also not likely to be easy to tell your oldest child that you think their youngest sibling is actually better for the job simply because of family dynamics.
4 tips that can help you choose your executor
If you put all the emotional and family dynamics aside, however, you’re left with the following considerations:
- 1. Who is the most responsible person? Your executor can hire someone to handle the financial and legal aspects of your estate, but they do need to be responsible about the process. That means you want to pick someone who can acknowledge that they need help and take affirmative action to obtain it. They also need good financial sense to make informed decisions.
- 2. Is this person likely to survive you and be able to handle the work? You and your spouse could die in a common accident, like a car wreck – and your brother could simply not be up to the task when the time comes because of his own health issues. It’s generally wisest to pick someone younger as your executor (or, at least, name them as an alternative choice).
- 3. Do they live close enough to do the job? While it’s not a requirement, the necessity to secure your personal property until it can be distributed and the frequent interactions with the court or any professionals involved may make it hard for someone who lives far away to effectively manage your estate.
- 4. Do they have the right personality and good dynamic with the family? You never want to set up your heirs for problems by trying to force people who don’t mesh to work together on something so important. Naming your two children co-executors, for example, could be a very bad idea if they don’t get along.
Creating a last will and testament and putting your estate plans in order is a loving act toward those you leave behind, and your wishes shouldn’t be thwarted because of a poor choice of executor. Learning more about what an executor needs to do can help you make good decisions.