After your death, your executor acts on your behalf and performs all your legal duties such as selling your property, resolving debts, commencing lawsuits, reviewing medical records and participating in probate and distributing your assets to your heirs and beneficiaries. A good executor has certain qualities.
Being responsible is the most important trait for the person you select to perform probate and estate administration. You do not have to select an attorney or accountant. But your executor should treat this as an important job and be competent to hire the right professionals, address matters quickly and effectively, deal with beneficiaries and make difficult decisions.
Likewise, do not approve any unqualified individuals. Having a criminal past and being a non-citizen living outside the United States are usually disqualifying.
If you do not have qualified family members or friends, you can select a professional or bank or trust company to serve as an executor. But they charge higher fees than the commissions usually paid to executors.
Many courts require bonding through insurance companies. This will pay beneficiaries if the executor steals estate funds.
Executors should be in good financial standing. Individuals with many creditors and liens against them, no credit history or who declared bankruptcy may be unqualified for obtaining a bond.
Although your will should be reviewed periodically, many wills remain in effect for decades. Also, older executors are more likely to die or become unable to serve as administrators.
Name at least one younger, healthy administrator. This can be done by naming a specific person or identifying a relative or friend who reaches a certain age.
Executors do not have to live nearby to perform their duties. They can hire individuals to perform tasks such as moving furniture or cleaning a residence.
Family members who are beneficiaries may not get along or only one of the beneficiaries kept up a relationship with the deceased individual. Naming only one of these beneficiaries as an executor may lead to unfair treatment of other beneficiaries or cause difficulties.
There are two options. First, naming both individuals to serve together and hope they work together. The better option is to name a third party.
An executor should work hard without hesitation and with patience, keep their emotions in check and deal politely but candidly and firmly with beneficiaries. They may also have to deal with probate clerks.
Attorneys can assist executors. They may also help develop an estate plan that helps them complete their duties.