Choosing Your Estate Executor

One of the most important decisions you must make when planning your estate is selecting an executor. An executor’s duties include determining the value of your estate, paying outstanding debts, filing tax returns, maintaining a record of all transactions, and ultimately, distributing the remaining assets to your heirs.

Your choice generally comes down to a family member, friend, or professional. Each alternative has its advantages and disadvantages. A family member or friend may be familiar with your intentions and usually expects little or no pay for settling your estate. However, he or she may lack a knowledge of estate administration and may be too close to the situation to be able to effectively settle family disputes or collect debts from relatives or friends.

A professional administrator has experience dealing with estate administration and can be held to a higher standard of conduct than a friend or relative. However, he or she may be unfamiliar with important personal circumstances affecting your estate. Also, his or her services can be costly.

Perhaps the best idea, especially for those with larger estates, is to choose an estate planning team that includes both personal and professional representatives.


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