Selecting an executor for your estate is an important task. The executor must be someone you trust, but also someone who won’t be overwhelmed by the responsibility they are being give.
In all honesty, the person you choose with not have a realistic understanding of what they’re getting themselves into unless they’ve been there before. Sometimes, they’re not even given a heads up that they’ve been selected to be someone’s executor. It’s not very common that the conversation is even had before the appointment is made. Often, individuals or couples come to my office for their Estate and Wealth Planning Session without having even thought about executor designations. I ask them if they have thought about who should be their executor (or alternate executor, if it’s a married couple), and that’s usually the first time it’s ever come up. They thing of someone they trust, designate them as their selection for executor, and then tell them about it after the fact: “Oh, by the way, I named you my executor in my Estate Plan.”
Often people feel obligated to name a close family member as their executor because they think that’s what family is supposed to do for each other. Who else would they name, right?
The person you choose should be able to manage their own affairs before taking responsibility for yours. They should be a good communicator and someone who knows or is familiar with your likely beneficiaries. They should understand that probate can take a long time, depending on the complexity of the estate. They should also be willing to include experts when needed: CPAs, atorneys, the decedent’s financial advisor, business and real estate appraisers, insurance professionals, and other. They should be able to stand up to your potential beneficiaries who will certainly pressure him/her to make distributions as soon as possible. Most of all, you need to let them know that they’re going to be your executor before you name them in your will. It’s a lot easier to choose someone else before your Estate and Wealth Planning Session than to amend your will.