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Choosing an executor to administer your estate

When crafting your estate plan, there are many decisions that one must make — end of life preferences, how to protect various assets and who should be your beneficiaries, for example. One of the most important decisions you will make when crafting your estate plan is appointing an executor to your estate. This individual can generally be just about anyone (with some exceptions), but they must be prepared to carry out your wishes competently and fairly, and must handle a number of fairly complex legal matters.

When considering who might best serve as your executor, it might be useful to first consider all the various responsibilities of an executor. This individual must be able to assume responsibility for maintaining your estate when you pass, until it can be distributed according to your wishes. This means paying the various utility and tax bills that may come due while waiting to distribute the property in your estate to your beneficiaries. It also includes paying any outstanding debts against the estate (although it is important to note that almost all of those debts are only against the estate, not your survivors) Your executor must also make several court appearances on your behalf to finalize property distribution according to your wishes.

You can name just about anybody who is of sound mind and legal age as your executor. It is important, of course, that you let them know of your decision beforehand. Executors who find out they've been appointed in the moment can rise to the occasion, but it can be a lot to process! In many cases, this individual is your spouse, your child or possibly a sibling or close friend. Be sure to consider which of your available choices are truly best suited to the responsibilities and communicate it all to them directly.

These matters can be a lot to handle. The good news is that you don't have to do it alone. An experienced attorney can help you draw up an estate plan and remain on hand to provide valuable guidance to your executor when the time comes. With proper guidance, your wishes can be honored while protecting the rights of your loved ones.

Source: findlaw, "Choosing the Executor FAQ," accessed April 28, 2017

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