Aside from young parents selecting a guardian for their children, one of the most important, and sometimes difficult, decisions you will make in setting up your estate plan is the choice of executor.
You want to choose people to handle your estate that you trust to carry out your wishes and represent the best interests of your beneficiaries. And although we (mostly) love our family members and friends, not everyone is equipped for this important job.
To help make the right determination, it helps to understand exactly what an executor does and what you should consider in choosing him or her.
First, Let’s Define “Executor”
When I say “executor” I’m talking about the person who will administer and value your estate once you die. An executor can be an individual (family, friend, or a professional) or an institution, such as a bank or a trust company.
What Should I Consider When Naming an Executor?
Serving as an Executor is a big responsibility and can be very time consuming. You want to make sure that you choose someone who is up to the task. When choosing your executor, consider the following character traits:
Loyalty and a Sense of Fairness: If your executor is named to take care your estate after your death, you want them to be fair to your beneficiaries. Your executor must be fair-minded enough to treat all your beneficiaries equally and protect all their interests in administering your estate.
Trustworthiness: Is the person you’re thinking of naming as an executor someone you would trust with your money or even your life? Remember, when you die your executor could possibly be handling large sums of cash and property. Is this someone you would trust to invest the money well and sell your assets wisely?
Practicality: Common sense is a very valuable character trait when it comes to administering an estate. Make sure your nominee is able to make practical decisions both when it comes to your estate when you die.
Organized: If you love your brother but he hasn’t balanced his own checkbook in 10 years and has a stack of bills permanently situated on his kitchen table with no clue what is or isn’t there, you may want to rethink naming him as an executor. The person you name needs to be organized so that account balances and all bills, invoices, and other documents are handled promptly and properly.
Tough: You don’t want to name someone as your executor who is terminally unpleasant, but you definitely want someone who is tough-minded and strong willed enough to fend off greedy beneficiaries, deal with all the red tape involved in administering your estate and anything else that you just can’t plan for in advance.
Make Sure You Ask!
If you decide on someone to serve as your executor, discuss it with them before you put them in your estate planning documents and make sure they understand exactly what they’ll be undertaking and that they are prepared to take on the task.
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Michele R.J. Allinotte is the owner of Allinotte Law Office Professional Corporation in Cornwall, Ontario and she helps her clients make the best decisions for themselves, their families and their businesses. Her practice focuses on the areas of business law, estate planning and real estate. Visit www.YourCornwallLawyer.com to get her FREE Peace of Mind Personal Inventory to make sure that your family has all the information they need.