Choosing an Executor for Your Estate

executor, estate, Illinois estate planning attorneyFor many people, estate planning is difficult, as it requires a person to objectively consider the reality that he or she will not live forever. Despite the challenges, preparing for the future is always a good idea, and a qualified estate planning attorney can certainly help throughout the process of preparing a will, a living will, a living trust, and any other estate planning arrangements. One important decision that you must make, however, is determining who will be legally responsible for the financial matters of your estate after your death. This person is called an executor, and choosing the right individual to serve in that capacity begins with understanding a few things about the role.

What Does the Executor Do?

The duties of your estate’s executors involve making the final decisions and notifications regarding your financial matters when you are deceased. More specifically, these tasks usually include:

  • Collecting and taking inventory of all assets in your estate;
  • Presenting or filing your will for probate;
  • Satisfying your remaining debts, obligations, and taxes with assets from your estate;
  • Closing accounts and ending appropriate lifetime benefits, such as Social Security; and
  • Distributing the estate among named beneficiaries according to your will or other applicable law.

Choosing the Right Person

It is not uncommon for an individual to select a close family member as executor of his or her estate. However, the duties of the executor require more than a familial relationship. When considering a potential executor there a number of things you should think about:

Suitability for the Role

Your executor does not need to have a law degree or CPA certification, but he or she should have some familiarity with the processes involved. Your estate planning lawyer can continue to assist your executor, so common sense and reliability is more important that formal training. Your executor must also be organized and fairly meticulous, as there are many deadlines and requirements associated with his or her assumed duties.

Age and Health

Barring an unforeseen tragedy, are you sure your executor will outlive you? If so, will he or she still be mentally and physically capable of assuming the appropriate responsibilities? In the event your executor is unable to fulfill his or her duties, the court may appoint an administrator of the estate—essentially the same as an executor—which could result in changes to your intended approach.

Ability to Resolve Conflicts

Death affects families in many different ways, and for some, grief over the loss manifests itself in contentiousness over the estate. You need to trust that your executor will be able to handle such issues when they arise. In addition, your executor must also be capable of compartmentalizing his or her own grief and emotions as he or she tends to the matters of your estate.

There are many other factors to consider when choosing an executor, but no matter who you select, you can help make his or her job much easier with careful and comprehensive estate planning. If your estate is in order and you have prepared well, your executor will have far fewer issues in carrying out your wishes. For more information on choosing an executor, or on any other concerns related to estate planning, contact an experienced Naperville estate planning attorney today at the Gierach Law Firm. Call (630) 756-1160 to speak with someone about your estate planning needs.