Choosing an executor for your will is a major decision. Your executor is tasked with ensuring your hard-earned assets, personal belongings, and other valuables will be distributed to the people you choose. Acting as the executor of an estate can require a lot of time and energy. The process of settling an estate can sometimes take years. Accordingly, there are several factors to consider when choosing the right person. Read on for our tips on choosing an executor.
Consider People You Trust
Choosing an executor to be in charge of your entire estate can be overwhelming. You may have lots of different people in your life you feel you can trust and who have your best interest at heart. However, trusting a person to carry out your wishes after your passing and honor your intentions for providing for your loved ones is extremely serious. Evaluate the list of people who are closest to you and examine how objectively responsible those people are. While you might be able to count on a child, sibling, spouse, or friend no matter what, some people are more capable of managing large, serious tasks than others.
Try to look at qualities and qualifications as objectively as possible rather than make a primarily personal decision. While you might be closer to one person, someone else might be better equipped to take on a project of this significance. Experience as an executor or a legal, managerial, or financial background could also be an added bonus. However, a good executor by no means is required to have experience, especially since they will likely be guided by an experienced probate attorney.
Once you have narrowed your list down to a few people, you will want to communicate openly with them. Let them know you are choosing an executor and considering them as soon as possible. This is especially important if they are unwilling or unable to fulfill the role. If they are willing to be considered, try to have honest, transparent conversations with them. This way, you can evaluate their qualifications and ability to perform the necessary tasks.
- Future Plans: Fulfilling the role of executor can often take a significant amount of time. In fact, in some cases, it can take years. If a person has a particularly time-consuming job, is planning on having children, travels a lot, or has any other number of commitments that could interfere with their ability to settle the estate, you may want to consider someone else.
- Location: It is not necessary for a person to live in your state to be your executor. However, it can create some complications, especially if they live far away. During probate, they may have to travel back-and-forth quite a bit, which can be a financial strain and be difficult for a person to plan. A local person who lives in the same state as you might be the best choice for a smooth process.
- Think About Health and Age: While a person’s health conditions and age do not have any impact on their ability to manage an estate, they must still be considered. If your executor becomes ill and cannot perform their duties, someone else will have to take on the role. If they are close to your own age, there is a chance they may not outlive you, and preparations must be in place in case this happens. Your probate attorney can help you evaluate these factors and make a plan that guarantees a trusted person will be able to administer your estate no matter what.
Consider Naming a Team
In some cases, a team of co-trustees might be a good idea. The main benefit is that large, important decisions are not left to one person. Depending on the specific situation, this might be the best choice. This way, all of the beneficiaries are happy, and one person does not feel overburdened.
This also might be a good choice if there are multiple people who work well together, know each other well, and have experience working together to solve problems and/or come to positive resolutions. All families are different, however, and this structure may not be ideal for every estate.
Choose At Least One Younger Successor
Depending on when you draft your will, you may have it in place for decades before passing. Anything can happen at any time. It is important to be prepared for any possibility. You only need to name one executor for a valid will, but it’s a good idea to name at least one younger successor who is likely to outlive you and/or your executor just in case.
Examine Family Structure and Situations
Family dynamics are complicated. Divvying up an estate will exacerbate existing issues and cause people to have emotional responses. Blended family structures, previous marriages, and many other situations must be considered in estate planning.
For example, some siblings could have a negative reaction to a sibling from a different marriage being elected executor. A wills and estates lawyer can help you navigate these problems and reach the most favorable resolution for you and all of your beneficiaries.
Check in Again in the Future
In general, you should revisit your estate plan with your wills and estates attorney after you have drafted it. Reevaluating your will every three to five years is a good idea. This way, you can account for changes in your life and the lives of your family members, beneficiaries, and executor. The person you have chosen may have experienced a life change since they agreed to take on the role. This might prevent them from performing the job efficiently. Things like health, home moves, financial changes, and much more can affect a person’s ability to perform their duties as an executor.
If you need help choosing an executor for your will or planning your estate in Maryland, contact Blackford & Flohr. We can help you select the best person to manage your assets and ensure your wishes are honored. Call (410) 647-6677 now.