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How to choose an executor for your estate

Organizing your estate is an important responsibility, one that demands your full attention. You need to plan it carefully and involve the people you trust the most to ensure it is carried out according to your wishes. Choosing who will assume the essential role of executor can be difficult, but there are several criteria you can refer to that should make the decision easier. Before asking anyone to be the executor of your estate, consider whether that individual satisfies the following four qualifications.

1. Do they have legal or financial experience?

Though it is not a requirement, the American Bar Association indicates that professional advice should be sought if executors themselves do not have the legal or financial knowledge necessary to execute the estate. If you are considering individuals to appoint as executor, you may benefit from selecting someone who does have this experience and will be adept at handling some of the more tedious tasks of the position.

2. Do you trust them fully?

It should go without saying that the person you appoint as executor should be one you trust without reservation. The executor will have total power over the administration and dispersion of your property, so if you suspect that he or she may be capable of unsavory action, it is best to seek help elsewhere or develop a different plan.

3. Do they have the time?

One of the most important yet often overlooked considerations to take into account is whether the would-be executor will have the time to execute the estate. Does this person work a full-time job? Does she or he go to school? Is there a family to take care of? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the individual may not be able to dedicate the time necessary for executing the estate.

4. Are they good at conflict resolution?

It is an unfortunate truth that estates are often a source of conflict and dispute within families. Arguments ensue over property distribution, and the responsibility often falls on the executor to calm these conflicts and navigate the tension to properly execute the estate. You should consider, then, whether your candidate for executor will be skilled in resolving problems and performing the duties despite family protests.

If you are planning an estate or executing one, you can benefit from legal guidance and representation. Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure liability is minimized and proper procedure is followed.

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