The odds are high that no matter who you choose to be the executor of your estate after you die, someone else in your family is likely to object. The issue can be so touchy that many people don’t tell anyone whom they’ve chosen as their executor — including the person chosen!
That’s actually a big mistake.
Even a relatively simple estate can be stressful for an executor to handle, especially if someone else feels like he or she should have been chosen.
For example, if you choose your middle child to be your executor because you think he or she would have the most time to handle the job, your eldest may feel slighted — even though you made the decision thinking of his or her well-being. That could cause your eldest child to take out his or her frustrations on your middle child since you aren’t there anymore to intercede or explain.
The stress associated with being in charge of a relative’s estate can cause some executors to opt out of the duty — which then puts those estates in uncertain hands.
While you ultimately have to make the final decision, here are the things to look for an executor:
1. Pick someone likely to survive you. Someone younger than you, in good health and living nearby is ideal. Someone living far away is going to have a hard time securing your assets and handling local paperwork. Above all, pick someone who willingly accepts the position and will keep silent about it to others.
2. Pick someone who is financially stable. After all, you’re trusting them with your assets. Even if they’d never steal, financial instability could open them up to reputation-ruining accusations by jealous relatives.
3. Have a backup. This is a necessity. You have no way of knowing if illness or some other issue will prevent your first choice from doing the job.
4. Suggest professional assistance to your chosen executor. Leave the information in a letter if you want, but having a professional help with the execution of your will can make the process much less difficult on your executor.
Finally, make certain that you don’t change your mind about who will be your executor unless you also tell the people involved. That can create confusion about the validity of a later will — which is something you need to avoid.
Source: www.americanbar.org, “Choosing the executor or trustee,” accessed Jan. 5, 2018