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Things to consider when selecting an executor for your estate

Most people are familiar with the estate planning document known as a last will and testament. Frequently regarded as the most basic of all estate planning documents, via a will, an individual can express his or her wishes with regard to the distribution of assets and personal belongings.

In addition to drafting a detailed and explicit will, an individual must also name an executor who is responsible for ensuring that a will's directives are carried out. An executor is also responsible for paying any outstanding debts and taxes, tying up loose ends with regard to a decedent's credit cards and banking accounts and numerous other miscellaneous tasks.

Given the significant and often complex and highly emotional matters to which an executor must attend, it's important to note that not everyone is cut out for the job. For example, an individual may ask a son, daughter or close friend to act an executor. Most people regard such a designation as an honor and a child or relative may feel as though he or she has no choice but to accept the role. Often, however, an individual who agrees to serve as an executor may not fully understand what an executor does or the challenges that frequently accompany the role.

In general, an executor should be someone who is capable, honest and trustworthy. Additionally, when selecting an executor, an individual would be wise to consider any potential challenges or conflicts that may arise. It may make sense to turn to an estate planning attorney to serve as an executor when you have no reliable family members or you are contemplating the idea of leaving assets to charity.

Even in cases where an individual chooses to select a relative or business partner as an executor, he or she may soon become overwhelmed by the responsibilities associated with the role. In these types of cases, a beleaguered executor can also seek the advice and assistance of an attorney.

Source: American Bar Association, "CHOOSING THE EXECUTOR OR TRUSTEE," March 11, 2016

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