An Executor for an estate is the person or entity chosen to carry out final wishes as stipulated in a will. Some of an executor’s responsibilities include: filing the will with the county clerk after the death of the testator, ensuring all debts/claims have been paid, ensuring all specific personal property distributions as directed in the will are made, distributing all remaining funds to the people named in the will after the payment of claims have been made, and the maintenance of any real estate until it can be sold or transferred. When deciding who should be named as an executor for your estate, here are some things to consider:
Does the candidate handle their personal finances well? Maybe considering someone who always seems to be in debt, or is known for not paying bills on time is not the best idea for an executor. I recommend looking for someone who is good with his or her own money and seems to understand how to handle it.
Is the candidate organized? Being an executor can definitely be overwhelming for some people. A good executor should know how to balance books, sell real estate, maintain accurate financial records, efficiently inventory assets, and make sure deadlines are met. Selecting a person with strong organizational skills will make life much easier for your executor as well as your heirs.
Does the candidate have thick skin? It doesn’t matter if the estate is big or small, or if the family is big or small, it only takes one heir to cause headaches. If an heir feels they have been wronged, or is not getting his or her fair share, that heir is a potential problem and could cause the executor many headaches and sleepless nights. Executors need to be strong-willed with a good moral compass.
Is the candidate honest? Executors have complete financial access to all the assets in the estate. There are a lot of true stories where executors have stolen money from the estate and “cooked the books” so the theft is not reflected in the accounting or to the heirs. Executors have also been known to inflate their time spent administering their duties and take a larger fee then is warranted. In order to make sure your heirs receive all the money they are due from your estate, having an honorable executor is key.
Choosing your own executor can be a very difficult decision and you should take your time when making that selection. Don’t forget, you can always change your executor after you have finished your estate plan by amending you will, just in case the person you name turns out to be different than you thought.