You’ve done the responsible thing and gotten your estate plan in order — except for one major decision: You still have to choose an executor.
You’ve tossed several different ideas, including your oldest adult child, your youngest sibling and your best friend. However,, you’re not entirely sure which of them is right for the job — and it’s a big job. How do you know who to choose?
Important criteria when you select your executor
Ideally, you need to take a step back from the emotional component of this job and make your decision as logically as possible. A good executor:
- Is younger than you: You don’t want to pick someone your own age or older (at least, not without a backup) in case they precede you in death.
- Is financially stable: Many probate courts require the executor of an estate to be bonded, and that won’t be possible if the person you choose has major financial problems.
- Can handle complicated paperwork: Managing an estate requires filling out forms and submitting a lot of paperwork to different agencies, companies and courts as well as filing out final tax papers. At a minimum, you want to choose someone who will get help if they can’t handle the job on their own.
- Isn’t involved in any family drama: Picking a relative as your executor is almost guaranteed to give rise to allegations of favoritism or self-dealing. Picking someone who isn’t an heir to your estate is probably wiser.
- Lives close by: It can be difficult (and expensive) for an executor to fulfill their duties from a distance. Someone who lives in the same area will have more flexibility and availability for court.
- Has integrity (and a backbone): Some of your heirs may get pretty aggressive about what they think they are due. You need an executor who isn’t afraid to stick to the rules and your wishes in spite of opposition.
Sometimes it helps to talk the pros and cons of your potential choices over with a professional — and sometimes it’s wiser to simply put a professional in charge of your estate. There’s no one perfect solutions for everyone, but there is a solution that will work for you. Don’t hesitate to learn more about your options.