One of the toughest parts of estate planning is choosing a will executor. This is the person who will go through your belongings, make difficult decisions and ultimately dispose of your property.
It's a hard decision to make, and may cause some squabbling amongst your loved ones. But it has to be done, and you need to find the right person to take care of your affairs once you're gone.
So when it's time to make that decision, think about the following responsibilities, and the type of personality it takes to get these things done.
Though obligations vary, most will executors do the following:
- Find assets and heirs,
- Handle court proceedings,
- Wrap up legal and contractual affairs,
- Pay off debts and taxes,
- Sell off property, and
- Distribute payments and remaining property.
Most people feel comfortable leaving these responsibilities in the hands of a spouse, sibling or child. But you can also choose an attorney or professional executor. Their fees are usually deducted from the estate.
Whomever you choose to be your will executor, the person must be honest, organized and communicative. He or she should also understand when to seek professional help.
It is also often wise to choose a will executor who has been approved by your family members. Wills can bring about a lot of hurt feelings. Someone may feel left out, or be offended by your choices. Some will want more of a say in how property is divided, such as a house or other assets.
Sadly, as property division after death is often an emotional process, some family and other personal relationships never recover from such events. That's why it's often best to choose someone who can avoid such conflict and keep everyone happy.
There's a lot to think about when choosing a will executor. Take your time and think things through. And if you're having trouble, speak to an experienced attorney for more directed advice.