Choosing the right executor is a part of good estate planning

Whether you have a large estate or a modest one, hopefully you have an estate plan in place to ensure that your desire as to the disposition of your assets is implemented. Stripped to its essence, estate planning allows you to designate the people and/or charitable institutions that you want to leave your property to. It also permits you to determine what amount of property each named beneficiary will receive. However, as observed by the Zachs Investment website, once you pass on you are no longer in a position to see to it that your estate planning goals are faithfully carried out This means that you are going to need to select the right person-or persons-to serve as your executor(s).

Executors perform vital tasks such as paying off the debts of the estate and making sure that all New York and federal taxes are paid. Crucially, the executor is charged with distributing the decedent's assets according to the terms and conditions of the will.

As noted by Forbes magazine, being an executor can be a time-consuming task depending on how large and complicated an estate is and how difficult it is to locate all of the assets. Much time could be expended going over a decedent's paperwork to track down assets and conduct a thorough asset inventory. Managing an estate could be especially challenging if the decedent left behind a business which the executor may have to run until it is either sold or passed to beneficiaries under the terms of the will.

Although the executor has important and vital duties to perform, the naming of an executor is unfortunately often an afterthought once a person has committed themselves to the goal of estate planning. However, as noted in the New York Times, your choice of an executor can end up meaning the difference between having an "estate that is settled harmoniously and efficiently" and an estate that becomes "bogged down in a legal and financial quagmire."

Choosing an executor

Obviously, an executor needs to be someone who is honest and dependable. AARP advises that in selecting an executor you will want someone with good organizational skills. The ideal executor should be a person who gets things done in a systematic and methodical fashion. You do not want someone who is a "procrastinator" or is likely to become flustered and stymied if problems arise. Someone who cannot manage to keep their own checkbook organized is not the best candidate for the job.

If the estate is large and complicated-or will entail the running of a business-consideration should be given to selecting an executor who possesses business management skills or, perhaps, has an accounting background.

Importantly, you should take steps to ensure that your choice of an executor will be someone who is fair-minded and impartial with regard to the beneficiaries. An executor may need to possess diplomatic skills and a thick skin if he or she is going to deal with jealous family members who become frustrated because they did not receive the bequests they expected. Being able to keep the peace among beneficiaries could prevent the possibility of a will contest.

Seek legal help

If you are interested in making sure that your loved ones are adequately protected after your passing, you should contact a New York attorney experienced in handling estate planning. An attorney will be glad to give you advice on an appropriate person to serve as executor of your estate.