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Choosing an executor is about more than just trust

Choosing an executor is an important and necessary step when working out a detailed estate plan. The executor of the estate will be in charge of ensuring that one's wishes as laid out in a will and other legal documents are adhered to and that the estate is distributed properly. However, as the Globe and Mail points out, while many people consider being chosen as an executor to be a sign of trust and honour, they quickly find out that the job is far more demanding and time consuming than they anticipated. When choosing an executor, people should therefore keep in mind some essential qualities that will better ensure their estate is administered according to their wishes.

Choosing the right executor

As MoneySense points out, for most people a family member will make the best executor since such a person is most likely to administer an estate honestly, efficiently, and to work in the best interests of beneficiaries (who are likely also family members). Keep in mind, however, that the person chosen as the executor needs to be informed that he or she has been named as such. A family member may be trustworthy, but if they have neither the time nor the inclination to administer an estate then they are likely to run into problems. Of course, not all family members are equally trustworthy, so don't just choose somebody to be an executor simply because they are related. Choosing an alternate executor is also a good idea.

Additionally, because being an executor is a demanding job, the person chosen should be somebody who is younger and in good health. The executor should also live in the same geographic area, which will make it easier for her or him to secure the deceased's assets and administer the estate more directly. Finally, an executor need not have any experience in estate administration (a lawyer can provide this), but she or he should be organized and capable of keeping good records.

The risks of a bad executor

Choosing the wrong executor can lead to many problems. While a person who does not want to be an executor can renounce the position, in other cases a person who does not make a suitable executor can end up wasting funds in the estate, which in turn deprives beneficiaries of their inheritances. Furthermore, getting a bad executor removed can be a costly and time-consuming process for family members.

Estate planning law

An estate planning and administration lawyer can provide help either for those who are trying to choose a suitable executor or for those who have been named as an executor and would like help administering an estate. Regardless of the situation, an experienced lawyer can provide clients with guidance and peace of mind for their estate planning needs.