Who do you trust to handle your affairs?

When creating your estate plan, you say exactly where you want to leave your assets.  But, who is responsible for achieving your plan and making sure that your wishes are honored?  In a Will, this person is referred to as a Personal Representative; in a Trust, it is a Successor Trustee; and both are commonly referred to as an Executor.

Choosing an Executor is one of the most important decisions that you will make during the estate planning process.  The wrong Executor will cost your estate time and money, frustrate your beneficiaries, and fail to preserve the legacy you hope to leave.  Meanwhile, the right Executor brings a family together and takes away the legal stress.

Some key factors to consider with an Executor are:

  1. Who do you trust?
  2. Who shares your values?
  3. Who communicates clearly and effectively with your beneficiaries?
  4. Who is responsible enough to make appointments with your attorney, your CPA, and your financial advisor.
  5. Who will your beneficiaries respect?

There are many options in choosing your Executor:

  1. Your children can serve – assuming they are 18 or older and can be approved by the Court; meaning that they do not have a recent bankruptcy, or other financial or criminal issue that would preclude them.
  2. Another family member, like a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew.
  3. A close friend.
  4. An advisor. There are some CPAs and Attorneys who will serve, but your financial advisor typically cannot do it because of their compliance obligations.
  5. A professional fiduciary or trust company. There are many people who serve in this role as a profession.

Regardless of who you choose, it is important to think through this decision.  Families often select a child or sibling to serve as their executor, and this can be the right person, but not always.  It is important to consider your family dynamics.  Many kids do not want to be their brother’s or sister’s “keeper.”  Alternatively, having another family member managing your children’s inheritance can lead to resentment from your kids.  Please let us work through this decision with you, so that you can pick the right Executor for your family.

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