How to select an executor

You have considered how to divide your assets among heirs, learned how to disinherit and designated guardians for any dependents. Do not forget to choose your executor, which is one of the most important elements of a will. It is a large job that is very complex, so learn how to choose the right one.

Look for these qualities in an executor

An executor is responsible for carrying out your final wishes and seeing your assets through the probate process. He or she does not need financial or legal expertise, but he or she should be able to do the following:

  • Manage paperwork, bureaucrats and taxes
  • Live near the probate court
  • Deal with relatives who are wondering why the estate is taking so long to settle
  • Have perseverance in dealing with creditors and debtors
  • Be trustworthy with your assets

Your chosen executor cannot be a convicted felon, and he or she must be a U.S. citizen. It is also wise to choose someone you know is financially responsible. You should also choose a successor in case your first choice is unable to serve for any reason.

Consider a paid executor

If you are concerned about your spouse being able to manage your estate or concerned about conflicts of interest, you may want to consider a paid executor. An outside executor is paid to handle the job, take the fees from the estate before anything is distributed and give an accounting to the court for all the assets.

Choose more than one executor

You can choose more than one person to be the executor of the will, but select people who can work together. With larger estates, the executor may hire professionals to assist with probate and distribution.

Always ask the person you are naming as executor in your will if he or she wants the job. You want to make sure that the person will serve when needed. Work with your estate attorney to give the executor the powers needed to settle your estate.