When it comes to preparing your estate, there are a lot of things that require careful attention. For one, if you have minor children, who will be their guardian? Plus, who will your beneficiaries be? One decision that often gets less personal thought than it should is who will be your executor. After all, this person will be in charge of your estate and its assets once you’ve passed away.
Many individuals choose a close relative to serve as their executor. However, that may not be the wisest choice. According to a recent Daily Finance article, “If you know someone with a law degree or an accounting background, they may be a good choice to serve in the role.” Choosing an executor shouldn’t be a decision that is made solely with your heart. Sure, you love your brother, but if he’s more an artistic type with no real understanding of money or sense of responsibility, he may not be the best executor.
When choosing your executor, you’ll also want to consider who will be around after your passing. If you have a spouse, how will he or she be affected by your decision? If your spouse survives you, it may make the most sense for them to handle your affairs. If he or she passes before you or you get divorced, however, you’ll need to choose a new executor.
Finally, before determining the best candidate for the job, think about what you’re asking of him or her. Being named an executor isn’t exactly a gift or a dream job. It can be challenging and thankless. It can also be difficult and time consuming.
The responsibilities of an executor include:
- Collecting assets and information on beneficiaries
- Determining debts against the estate and paying them if they are legitimate
- Managing estate assets
- Paying taxes
- Distributing the estate
Talk to someone before naming him or her as your executor in order to ensure that the person knows what he or she is getting into. The best thing you can do for that individual is make sure your affairs are as organized as possible. This will include clearly designating beneficiaries for everything, including things that only have sentimental value like family photos or “good” dinnerware.
While picking an executor may seem like a challenge, it is important that you do it. If you do not appoint an executor of your estate, the court will pick one for you. This appointed person may or may not be a member of your family, which can lead to a situation that is less than ideal.
If you have questions about choosing an executor, please feel free to contact one of the experienced Huntsville, Alabama estate planning attorneys at Martinson & Beason, P.C.