Selecting an estate executor is one of the most important decisions you will make during the estate planning process. When you pass away, the executor will be responsible for taking care of any unfinished business and carrying out all your final wishes. For these reasons, it is crucial that you choose your executor wisely.
Choosing an estate executor can be a daunting task. Fortunately, Kiplinger anticipated this and put together a list of top traits to look for in the person with whom you plan to entrust your estate.
Pick a responsible party
According to Kiplinger, the most important quality of an estate executor is responsibility. The person you select does not necessarily have to have a prestigious job or a giant bankroll, but he or she should have all his or her ducks in a row — and like to keep them that way. This person has health insurance; pays all his or her bills on time, every time; holds, and always has held, a steady job; maintains little to no debt; is punctual; communicates openly and honestly. These traits are important because this person will need to address estate matters in a timely fashion and make hard decisions when necessary.
Consider emotional stability
Most people think that the best person for the job of executor is someone with whom they are very close. This is rarely the case. The best executor is someone who can remain emotionally balanced and level-headed through the estate administration process. This person cares for your beneficiaries but is not above taking a tough-love approach without hesitation.
Look for someone who is financially stable
Aside from being a sign of responsibility, financial stability is necessary for an executor to obtain bonding. Bonding is a form of insurance that, in the case of estate planning, serves to pay beneficiaries in the unlikely event the executor takes off with the estate’s funds. If a bonding company determines an executor’s financial standing makes him or her a flight risk, it will not insure him or her, which could prove disastrous for your estate.
Do not discount age
It is not uncommon for individuals to create one will in their lifetimes. Wills do not expire, so if you create yours when you are 40 and name your sister — who is just two years younger than you — as your estate executor, there is the very real possibility that she will not be around to execute your estate in, say, another 40 years. Though you need only to name one executor to validate your will, you should strongly consider naming a second, younger, healthy person who will likely outlive you.
Choosing the right executor for your estate can prove challenging. An attorney can guide you toward the right person who will give you peace of mind.