Estate planning is the process of legally deciding how your assets will be distributed in the event of your death. This is important to set up well in advance because you want as much say as possible. The sooner you start estate planning, the more control and less stress you will have. When your estate plan comes to fruition, the executor plays an important role in upholding your wishes.
Role of an Executor
An executor is an individual responsible for handling your assets and performing your legal tasks on your behalf when you pass away. The immense responsibility the executor holds makes choosing the right one a critical component of estate planning. Narrowing down your potential candidates may seem like a daunting task, but there are five main criteria for you to evaluate who is the best fit.
5 Tips When Choosing An Executor:
- Find Someone Accountable, Available, and Responsible
Your choice must have the capacity to serve, meaning they are willing and able to do their job. Executors get paid commission for the complex role they are taking on. Finding someone who has the time to fulfill the necessary duties and is comfortable talking about death is a prerequisite. The ideal person is easily accessible to contact and able to make tough decisions.
- Consider Financial and Emotional Stability
The executor you pick must have ample financial and emotional capacity. You want to make sure your executor can get bonded. “Bonding” is insurance that pays beneficiaries if the executor absconds with your estate funds. If the bonding company deems your choice of executor as financially risky, the court will not approve the individual. Likewise, you want to make sure the person is emotionally balanced and ready for difficult conversations. The executor may need to deal with challenging beneficiaries and be able to stand their ground.
- Choose a Young Successor
Your executor should be younger than you by at least a decade. Naming someone likely to outlive you will ensure the validity of your will.
- Avoid Appointing your Children
Appointing children may result in drama and conflict. A very common point of contention when a family member is an executor is property. If the kids are living rent-free with their parents, or want to sell their home, conflict will arise. You want to be able to trust your executor to have your best interest in mind and respect your desires.
- Avoid Appointing Co-Executors
Appointing multiple executors causes unnecessary logistical challenges that will further complicate the estate planning process. Each executor would need to sign every document and be involved in every estate decision. Coordinating the responsibilities of an executor with multiple people results in delays.
Role of Estate Planning Attorney
While an estate attorney can help you decide who should be your executor, they should not be your executor. Naming the attorney who drafted your will as the executor of your will has a conflict of interest. To prevent attorney misconduct, do not name your drafting attorney as your executor.
An estate planning attorney can provide additional guidance and expertise in helping you make your decision. For more information on how to choose the right executor for your estate, please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2394.