Choosing an Executor for a Deceased Estate

During your life, you gather different assets, from properties to vehicles and money. All these belongings represent a person’s estate. After the person passes away, their deceased estate should be divided and distributed by an executor. But, before this process starts, the executor should identify all assets including bank accounts, real estate, insurance policies, other investments and personal properties. They must make sure that all debts, fees and taxes are paid before proceeding with any distribution. Taking into account all the duties that should be performed, the question often asked is – who should be selected as an executor to carry out all directions set out in someone’s will.

Choosing the right executor will ensure the quick and correct distribution of the assets with a minimum disturbance to the family and other beneficiaries. 

A beneficiary, family member or friend is a common choice for the executor as they know well about your assets and affairs. Additionally, this way, you will avoid paying the fees that you would normally pay to a legal professional.

Some of the duties of an executor include: starting the probate process by filing court documents, taking an inventory of all assets, paying bills, taxes, funeral costs, terminating credit cards, dealing with income tax returns and, finally, dividing assets to beneficiaries as set out by the will.  This is why you need someone who is truthful, well-organised, reliable, comfortable with paperwork and who pays attention to tight deadlines.

So, it could happen that you will not find easily a friend or relative who would feel comfortable with performing these tasks, especially if the person is one of your beneficiaries. This situation can lead to a conflict of interests as the person who executes your will need to be objective and unbiased. Be particularly cautious if your assets also include business. Do not choose your business partner as the executor, as he or she might want to continue running the business while your other beneficiaries want to sell it.

So, if you cannot find a reliable and trustworthy person among close people, you should appoint a third party executor, such as a trust company, bank or professionals who have experience dealing with a deceased estate. Naming a professional executor in advance, during someone’s lifetime, will help you negotiate the fees.

Whoever you name to be the executor, get their approval. Once you think you made the right choice, go over all your affairs with that person and show them where you keep the most important financial and other documents.