Putting together an estate plan may just be one of the most important things you do for your family. During your life, you control how you support and care for them. You can take certain steps to extend that care and support beyond your death.
During the estate-planning process, you will make numerous decisions for your family. Perhaps one of the most important will involve whom you choose to act as the executor of your last will and testament.
An executor’s tasks
Here are some of the tasks required of your executor:
- Soon after your death, your executor must identify and gather all of your assets. He or she remains responsible for them until distribution to your heirs and beneficiaries takes place.
- Your executor pays your debts, your funeral and burial costs, and the expenses associated with the administration of your estate.
- He or she determines the cash needs for your estate and raises it.
- Your executor takes care of any tax matters and obligations for you and your estate.
- Finally, when all other tasks are completed, your executor distributes the remaining assets of the estate.
Other issues could arise during the probate process that will require your executor’s attention. For instance, someone could contest the will, heirs could get into disputes regarding certain pieces of property and creditors may file claims against the estate.
An executor’s traits
When trying to decide who would best serve in this capacity, you may want to consider the following traits:
- Ideally, your executor would have some knowledge, responsibility and confidence when it comes to financial matters.
- He or she may also benefit from some tax experience.
- You may want to choose someone who you believe will still be available when the time comes.
- Your executor could end up in some uncomfortable positions with the other people involved in your estate. It would help if he or she could remain impartial.
Perhaps two of the most important qualities of any executor are trustworthiness and integrity. You need to feel confident in your choice, but so do the members of your family. The final decision remains with you, but if your loved ones have reason not to trust the person you want to choose, you may want to rethink your decision.
As for the other traits, your executor may employ anyone required to assist him or her with all aspects of the probate process.