NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior, What are my options for choosing an executor for my will? I was considering asking one of my kids to do it, but I don’t think any of them are up for the job. What can you tell me?
— Still Kicking
Choosing an executor — the person or institution you put in charge of administering your estate and carrying out your final wishes — is one of the most important decisions in preparing a will.
Picking the right executor can help ensure the prompt, accurate distribution of your possessions with a minimum of family friction. Some of the duties required include:
· Filing court papers to start the probate process (this is generally required by law to determine the will’s validity).
· Taking an inventory of everything in the estate.
· Using your estate’s funds to pay bills, including taxes, funeral costs, etc.
· Handling details like terminating credit cards and notifying banks and government agencies like Social Security and the post office of the death.
· Preparing and filing final income tax returns.
· Distributing assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.
Given all the responsibility, the ideal candidate should be someone who is honest, dependable, well organized, good with paperwork and vigilant about meeting deadlines.
Who to choose: Most people think first of naming a family member, especially a spouse or child, as executor. If, however, you don’t have an obvious family member to choose, you may want to ask a trusted friend, but be sure to choose someone in good health or younger than you who will likely be around after you’re gone.
Also, if your executor of choice happens to live in another state, you’ll need to check your state’s law to see if it imposes any special requirements. Some states require an out-of-state executor to be a family member or a beneficiary, some require a bond to protect your heirs in case of mismanagement and some require the appointment of an in-state agent.