Now that you have rolled up your sleeves in preparing to create an estate plan, you need to strategize and make crucial decisions. Among them is naming an executor – the person who will settle your estate, work with attorneys during probate, pay any outstanding bills and taxes, and settle any disagreements among heirs.
In some situations, the decision is quick and easy. You know exactly the right person. Why? Because that person fits every quality that you need and want. However, in other circumstances, you are not be so sure. A few candidates come to mind, but none stand out. Will you go with the default selection of your oldest child? Hmm. You are not so sure that he would be comfortable in performing this time-consuming and, often, thankless job. You need someone who has a balanced variety of skills.
Reliable, available, financially savvy
It takes just the right person to be an executor of an estate. Here are some of the important traits you want in an executor:
- Reliable, trustworthy and responsible: Understanding the importance of an executor’s duties is crucial, so you want someone who you can count on to get the job effectively done and with the interests of the estate top of mind.
- Available, willing and comfortable: The role of executor is time-consuming. You want to make sure this person has the time and willingness to fulfill the duties. The person also must have a solid level of comfort because he or she must deal with government agencies, bickering heirs and impatient creditors.
- Solid knowledge of financial matters: Understanding investments, stocks, bonds and taxes are essential. The executor will work with investment companies to divide any IRAs and mutual funds among heirs, work with banks to close accounts and know whether someone is trying to take advantage of the estate.
- Organized, confident and patient: You want someone who is focused on the duties, understands each project’s priorities and effectively performs those duties. There may be some waiting on certain aspects of the role, so patience is key, too.
- Calm and level-headed: Drama, sometimes, comes with settling an estate. Disagreements may surface among heirs, so you want someone who has a calming effect in such situations.
These are just a few of the key qualities you want in an executor. Settling an estate is an enormous task. You want an ideal candidate in this role, and things can go smoothly.