Settling on who will be responsible for executing your estate should not be taken lightly. While you may consider it a straightforward decision to name your primary beneficiary as your executor, there are some things worth considering first. This is especially true if you only have one beneficiary named to your estate.
First, there are some practical considerations involved in selecting an executor. Ideally, the individual should be younger than you are. Their health and location are also worth considering. Picking someone likely to outlive you and who is geographically close enough to perform estate administration tasks is usually recommended.
An understanding of finances and taxes, as well as strong organizational and record-keeping abilities, are also good qualities to look for when picking an executor. Estate administration can be time consuming, so picking someone who will be able to dedicate the necessary time to the task is just as important as finding someone with the necessary skills and capacity to do the job. For example, a close friend who is retired may be a better choice than a relative who is juggling a full-time job with raising small children.
In addition, remember that if the executor is your sole beneficiary, they may have little help from family or others to complete the many tasks involved in administering your estate. For this reason, having a team available to assist your executor – that includes a lawyer and financial planner – can make a big difference in the overall burden placed on the sole recipient.
Whom you choose as your executor is a personal decision. However, because of the skills and time commitment involved, it’s a good idea to check that the person you’ve chosen as your executor agrees to serve in that role. Otherwise, they could ask the court to remove them from this duty after the fact. An estate planning lawyer can help to ensure that your plan will carry out your wishes – no matter what circumstances may arise.