When you pass away, your executor is the person who will be responsible for ushering your estate through the probate process. They’ll make certain that your assets are secured, your final debts are paid, your last tax return is filed and the remainder of your estate is properly disbursed to your beneficiaries.
So, who do you pick for this job? A lot of people name their spouse or their oldest adult child to the role, but that’s not always the best or most practical option. It’s a big job, and you need someone trustworthy. However, you also need someone who has:
You don’t want to pick someone whose life is already overwhelming. If someone is already strained for energy and time because of the pressures of their family life or career, they may not have the physical ability to attend court hearings, meet with professionals and the like. It’s also simply pragmatic to choose someone who lives relatively close to you.
2. Financial sense
Your executor may have to make significant financial decisions, such as managing investments, deciding what needs to be sold and paying your final bills. You want to choose someone who has at least a basic grasp of financial matters (and the sense to know when to get help).
3. Organizational abilities
Along the same lines, you want to pick someone who has strong organizational and administrative skills. Settling an estate has a lot of detailed steps that need to be followed, and the paperwork can be extensive. You don’t want to pick someone who is always losing track of their own important affairs.
4. Good interpersonal skills
A death can provoke all kinds of complicated family issues, and tensions can arise over perceived slights. Your executor needs to be able to communicate well with others and know how to navigate any complicated family dynamics you already recognize are in place.
Finally, no matter who you choose, make sure that you also pick a backup executor, in case something unforeseen happens and your first choice is suddenly unable to take on the job.