Choosing an Executor for Your Will

Estate Planning Couple

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Five Things To Consider When Choosing An Executor for Your Will 

Most of us recognize the importance of creating a thorough, well-reasoned estate plan. But we may not give adequate thought to choosing an executor to carry out the provisions of our wills. It’s all too easy to default to a relative without objectively weighing their qualifications or the challenges they may face. Because of the importance and potential complexity of the executor’s role, it’s wise to answer multiple questions before making your choice.

Will they be around? You probably shouldn’t select someone who is older than you or in questionable health. To be on the safe side, name an alternate in case your primary executor is unable to fulfill the role. This is usually a better option than co-executors. Although it may seem as if sharing responsibilities could lighten the load, it often complicates decisions, paperwork and banking activities.

Are they local? Some states don’t allow out-of-state executors unless they are a relative or a primary beneficiary. Many states impose special rules for non-resident executors or require them to obtain a bond. An executor who lives outside the area may also find it more difficult to maintain the deceased’s property.

How capable are they? A business or legal background is helpful but not necessary. Executors can, and often should, work with an attorney and an accountant. Honesty, intelligence, discipline, organizational skills and the ability to communicate well are essential.

Are they willing? Never name an executor without asking their permission. Are they still the right choice? Just as you do with beneficiaries, it’s important to review your decision periodically in case something has changed. Perhaps there has been a divorce or the person you designated has developed a health condition.

Should you consider a professional? You may want to name a third-party executor if you have a blended family, your family dynamics are difficult, you want to make things easier for a bereaved spouse, or you don’t have a suitable relative or friend. A bank, trust company or a professional who has experience dealing with estates may serve as an executor. Executor fees vary from state to state but often range between one to five percent of the estate.

Estate planning may be very involved, and it’s critical to get it right. We are happy to work with you, your attorney and your tax professional to find solutions for your situation. HCWM does not provide legal advice; therefore, it is important for us to coordinate with your legal advisor

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