The debate goes on inside your head as you create an estate plan. Who should be your executor? Traditionally, people have named their oldest adult child as the executor of their estate. However, that tradition does not always hold up.
Your executor does not have to be any of your children. Your choice may be a longtime colleague, trusted friend or family member and even a third-party law firm. But, in this role, this person should be responsible, mature, willing and prepared to take the job seriously.
Critical qualities needed
The person in the executor role should have a number of sound qualities, which include:
- Trustworthy: Of course, you want a reliable and responsible person to take on the assortment of duties, many of which focus on dealing with assets. The best interest of the estate should always come first.
- Financially knowledgeable: This person should have a basic knowledge of investments and understand the importance of making timely payments related to outstanding bills and taxes.
- Willing and available: Ask potential candidates and make sure they are willing to do the job, which may take more than a year.
- Confident: The executor should have no doubt that he or she may fulfill these important duties.
- Organized: The executor has a variety of duties and should have important organizational skills to get the job done.
- Patient, calm and decisive: Patience often is due to the length of time needed to settle an estate. Calmness is necessary when dealing with disputes among beneficiaries and heirs. Making solid and timely decisions also are necessary.
Make sure to talk to prospective candidates for the executor role and gauge their comfort level in their ability to do the job.
The right combination of skills
You want the right person in this important role. Your choice of executor should have the right combination of personality and skills to effectively perform these crucial duties.