Whom Should I Name as Executor of My Will?

Choosing an executor for your last will and testament is one of the most important decisions in your life. The individual you choose must carry out the written provisions you have left and relate diplomatically with your beneficiaries, accountants and attorneys, fiduciaries, and co-executors. Ideally, your executor knows you and your family well enough to “act in your stead” and be your agent.

Naming your spouse as your executor may be appropriate, as he or she is presumably familiar with your affairs. Consider, however, whether your spouse would be comfortable dealing with legal and financial matters, especially so soon after your passing. Your son or daughter may be a good choice for executorship, especially if residing in your state of permanent residence. The probate court may require your personal representative be domiciled in the state in which the estate is being probated. If your children do not live nearby, you may want to consider naming a family member who resides in your state.

If your estate is likely to be complex, an attorney may be the best choice for executor. In addition to professional expertise, a lawyer will usually be more objective than a family member. Another option is to name joint executors, such as your lawyer and your spouse, or your accountant and your son or daughter.

The executor of your estate is legally and financially liable for all decisions made during the probate process. Be sure you choose someone you trust, who is prepared to handle the many responsibilities involved in handling your estate.

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