During the process of drafting a will, one of the most overlooked areas is choosing an executor. Most may consider designating their family members or close friends to carry out their last wishes because those are the people they trust. However, that might not be the most appropriate choice.
For example, an individual may include all their children as executors so as to not make anyone feel left out and to give them an equal voice in the pursuit of fairness. However, the fair choice for the family may not be the right one for the will. One should consider their capabilities, the actual relationship the executors have between each other and their place of residence (to minimize logistic and tax complexity).
The role of an executor is very important and this blog lists six tips that you should consider when appointing an executor:
Trustworthy: The person carrying out your wishes needs to be someone you can trust and rely upon. Most people do not have a problem with this criteria as their first instinct is to appoint an executor they deem trustworthy.
Objective: You will need someone that is will not be distracted by family members and not biased to a particular beneficiary. This is even more important if the wealth is being transferred to the next generation. For example, in the case of a blended family, you would not want an executor from one of the marriages to handle the estate for everyone.
The executor should also be able to manage any family tension that could arise during these emotional periods. If needed, they should be able to explain the intentions behind the will to ease any disagreements.
Capable: The executor does not need to be an expert in estate and/or tax laws but they should have some knowledge in these areas so as to be able to seek the appropriate professionals for assistance. Someone that has their own financial matters in order is a good clue that they could probably be a good executor.
They should be organized and detail-orientated as the role of an executor requires accomplishing many task and meeting many deadlines in a short period of time.
Location: This criteria is often overlooked as many do not realize the residence and proximity of an executor to the deceased can create logistic headaches and tax complexities. Simple tasks such as selling the home, moving physical assets and emptying storage lockers can become onerous tasks if one does not live nearby. If your executor lives abroad, your estate may even be taxed in that country.
Flexible Schedule: Executing a will is a time consuming process and requires a significant time commitment from an executor. Therefore, it is important to select someone that has a flexible schedule that can meet the various deadlines. Selecting an individual with the capability but lack the time would create an extra burden.
Age and Health: You will need to choose someone that has the potential to outlive you so they can actually carry out your will.
Regardless of who you select as an executor, it is important to seek their approval and they understand the responsibilities associated with this role. An alternate executor should also be considered to ensure that an executor will be in place when the time comes.
If you are having trouble determining who in your network would be an appropriate executor, you may consider hiring a professional executor. This can also be seen as the last gift to your beneficiaries as they will reap the benefits without needing to work for it.
There are many resources about the topic of executor so please do not hesitate to consult your advisor for more information and materials.