Why Choosing an Executor is One of the Most Important Decisions in the Estate Planning Process
Should I appoint all four of my children to serve as co-executors?
When a person dies, it becomes necessary to begin the estate administration process. For those dying with a Last Will and Testament, the terms of this document dictate not only the distribution of the estate, but the person(s) responsible for ensuring that all debts are paid, properties are sold, and beneficiaries are paid. In sum, it’s a big job, not for the faint of heart.
Choosing an executor is an extremely important component of the estate planning process. When it comes time to make this decision, testators often assume that the best course of action is to simply appoint all of their children, who will then work together to get the job done in a timely and efficient manner. In some cases, this may be the best arrangement. More often than not, , however, appointing a group of individuals – particularly the children of the decedent– to handle the administration of the estate leads to conflicts, bickering, and tension.
When choosing an executor, it is often advised to select one person who possesses a responsible nature, is somewhat savvy financially and has the ability to complete the task at hand. When selecting an executor, consider each candidate’s place of residence, as it is often difficult to administer an estate from several states away. Likewise, consider whether the candidate is responsible, punctual and trustworthy – as these are all necessary qualities for the proper administration of an estate.
After selecting an executor, it is usually a good idea to select an alternate person to take over in the event the first executor is unable, unwilling, or predeceases the testator. In any event, all executors should be notified of their role, and should be willing to take on the responsibility from the outset.