Whom do you trust to carry out your wishes once you’re no longer here?
That’s no easy question — but it’s the first thing you need to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide who to name the executor of your estate.
Your executor has a big responsibility and it involves a lot of steps — so take some time to think through the qualities you’d like to see in the person chosen for the job. If you aren’t sure where to start, use these tips as a guide:
1. Rule out the unqualified.
Your executor can’t be a minor — so any children have to be at least aged 18 years or older. Executors also generally can’t be a felon. People who live abroad are also usually disqualified.
2. Pick someone with the right personality.
An executor needs to be patient, organized and efficient in order to get through all the paperwork involved in an estate. In addition, you want someone who can be reasonable — but not inclined to be a pushover. Otherwise, your heirs could end up subverting your will very easily (which could lead to unintentional conflicts).
3. Rule out people with conflicts.
Don’t want a fight over your estate? Then don’t put someone in charge that’s likely to create one. Take your family’s dynamics into consideration. If your sisters hate each other, for example, name your beloved brother as your executor instead. Choosing a neutral party can help avoid estate disputes.
4. Look for someone financially stable.
An executor often has to be bonded — which means that he or she acquires insurance in case something happens to the estate on his or her watch. Someone with financial problems, like bankruptcy, may have a hard time being approved.
5. Pick someone younger.
At least one of your choices for executor should be younger than you. That way, you run less risk that the person you choose will die before you — or be unable to serve due to ill health.
Because the job can be difficult, make sure that the person you choose is also willing to serve. Otherwise, your will could still end up being handled by a court-appointed stranger instead of a person of your own choosing.