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  • Northern Virginia Trusts & Estates

Who Should You Choose for an Executor?

Updated: May 22

Making your last will and testament is a very serious process that should involve a lot of thought and consideration. You’ll want to make sure you enlist the guidance you need from legal estate planning professionals in order to make sure your will reflects your wishes.

However, it’s also important you select an executor you can trust. If you are unaware what role an executor plays or haven’t thought much about selecting one, keep reading.

What is an Executor?

In some ways, an Executor is the most important person involved in a will.

Even when it’s your will, it could be argued an executor plays the most important role. That’s because without an executor, the will is just a piece of paper.

An executor is the person responsible for handling your assets upon your death. This means they must take control of them while debts and taxes are paid off. After that, it’s an executor’s job to execute the will—meaning they make sure your will is carried out and all parties mentioned get the assets you allocated to them.

What to Look For in an Executor

There is no legal requirement to be a will’s executor. As long as someone is of age, you can name them as the executor of your will.

However, this is not a job to give just anyone.

Consider some of the specific tasks they’ll need to handle:

  1. Make decisions about which assets to sell: If you have unsettled debts, your executor may need to sell off some of your assets in order to pay them.

  2. Interpret your will: They must read your will and administer your property as they believe you wanted. If you don’t have a will, the executor will need to establish whom your property goes to (this can involve finding distant relatives) by working with the courts.

  3. Tie up loose ends: Your credit cards will need canceling, leases will need ending and a number of government agencies will also need to be notified of your passing.

As you can see, this is not an easy job. The above are just a few of the duties an executor might have to carry out.

How to Choose an Executor

It’s best to hold off on choosing an executor until after you’ve finished with your will. This way you know exactly what your executor will need to do, the timeframe they’ll have to do it in, and who your beneficiaries are and the assets you’ll be allocating. This last part can be especially important. If you have a lot of assets wrapped up in foreign markets, for example, it might help to have an executor who is familiar with that area.

An easy choice for your executor is your spouse. They will be familiar with your business and family dynamics and be understanding of both. Of course, their understanding of your industry may not be substantial enough to guarantee results when you pass.

For this reason, many people elect to make a business partner their executor. They can rely upon your spouse or children to help with family issues and will share your expertise when it comes to your business dealings.

Whom Not to Choose

Keep in mind how important an executor is when you make your decision. This should help keep you from simply picking your closest friend or someone you feel “deserves” it. Simply because you’re on good terms with someone or have known them for a long time does not mean they’re up to this very important task.

When choosing the person who will execute your will be sure to give it the appropriate consideration. You want someone you can trust who is also extremely familiar with you and your assets.

If you are in the process of creating or updating your will and need help deciding on an executor, contact one of our attorney today for a consultation to ensure you get the proper guidance for making a good decision.

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