The executor of a will is the personal representative of the deceased and is charged with the duty of distributing the deceased’s assets in the manner directed by him or her in the will. One or more persons may be appointed.
You might choose to name a professional executor, such as a lawyer, accountant or trust company. A professional executor will charge fees, and any decisions made will not be based on a first hand, personal relationship with you or your family. What are the advantages for appointing a professional executor?
Choose your executor carefully. Consider the following factors:
If the estate and family situation are straightforward, a willing relative or a close friend is often appointed as the cheaper alternative to a professional. While he/she must have good judgment and integrity, it isn’t necessary to be a financial expert. If difficulties arise, the executor may choose to hire experts as needed. You may want to name a contingent, or alternate executor, in case your first choice is unable to perform the role when you die.
To help you select the most appropriate executor for your will, the individual you choose should have the following characteristics:
After you die, your executor makes funeral arrangements and ensures that all tax liabilities for your estate are paid, through the filing of tax returns. The executor has the power to distribute your estate according to the instructions in your will.
The executor must have a firm grasp of your financial affairs. Be sure to keep accurate and complete records of your financial documents and a list of your professional advisors and personal documents. Include a statement of your net worth so that the executor knows the value of your various assets.