Choosing An Executor of Your Estate

Choosing the executor of your estate is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. Your executor is responsible for handling the final details of your estate, such as paying off debts and distributing whatever is left to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries. Choosing an Executor can be a confusing and difficult choice, so here is a quick summary of important points to consider:

What are the responsibilities of an executor?

An executor is responsible for the distribution of all of your assets that are in your estate once you die. This includes paying your outstanding bills, filing your final tax returns, handling funeral arrangements/paying for the funeral, and distributing your money and property per your wishes, as stated in your Will. An executor can also be charged with losses resulting from waste or neglect if he or she does not timely and efficiently handle your assets. Because an executor has authority over your property after you die, it is essential to choose somebody who is trustworthy and will be mentally competent to carry out the necessary tasks according to your wishes.

What personal qualities should an executor have?

An Executor should be:

  • Honest
  • Reliable
  • Trustworthy
  • Organized
  • Financially Savvy
  • Fair to Everyone Involved
  • Able to Manage Competing Demands of Creditors, Family Members and Beneficiaries

What qualities are not desirable in an executor?

In general, it is smart to avoid an individual who has their own financial issues. Along the same lines, an individual with a substance abuse problem would not be the ideal choice. Also, you will not want to choose a candidate that you feel may be too busy to handle the job as carrying out the duties of an executor can be a heavy time commitment.

Typically, a person will choose their spouse and/or one of their children. Accountants, lawyers, and financial consultants are also often chosen for their expertise.

Attorney Davi M. Peters practices in the area of estate planning and can be reached at dpeters@lawyersnh.com or (603) 883-0797 extension 523.