When it comes to choosing an executor for your estate plan, it may be simple to pick someone from amongst your family members and friends for the task.
Broadly speaking, any of those individuals could be capable of doing the job. But because the task of executing an estate plan can present a variety of moral and emotional challenges to the executor, it’s imperative to select an individual you trust to do the job objectively, responsibly, and to completion. More specifically, you need to select a person who will honor the wishes of your estate plan and has the necessary skills to carry out the tasks and is trustworthy when it comes to money.
Basic Executor Requirements
While every state can have its own requirements for a person to legally serve as the executor of an estate plan, some general requirements will apply in every situation. An individual must 18 years old and capable of performing the duties involved with executing the estate plan.
If that second requirement sounds vague, that’s because the law recognizes that even a person who meets the age requirement could be disqualified due to a variety of circumstances. For example a candidate who is physically or mentally incapacitated, may not be capable of doing the job.
Also, a candidate currently serving a prison sentence would be disqualified due to an inability to freely move about from location to location in their capacity as an executor. Some states may also forbid a convicted felon from serving as an executor, regardless of the time served.
Finally, any court tasked with handling any aspects of the estate plan may deem the named executor incapable or unsuited to perform the required duties as executor.
Preferred Candidate Features
- Good Moral Character
At its core, the executor must be of good moral character regarding carrying out the wishes of the deceased. They must be trustworthy, honest, and reliable. Because the planner will no longer be able to communicate for themselves, the preferred executor should be someone who possesses these traits.
More specifically, the executor should be someone that will do everything they can to ensure the estate plan details get enacted as intended, even if they do not personally agree with the plans. They must be trusted not to take money or assets for themselves out of greediness.
The executor also has to be capable of rising above any fights or disagreements that may occur while administering the plan and be a fair arbitrator.
- Fiscally Responsible
An executor should be y fiscally responsible as they will be dealing with the assets of the estate. They must be respected by everyone involved in the process, from the court to the beneficiaries.
If the executor is trusted, they can handle responsibly distributing the funds, without suspicion or challenges.
The death of a loved one and the distribution of the assets can be an emotionally charged situation. Unfortunately some family members may not like how the deceased decided who should be beneficiaries. In spite of that, the executor must be able to navigate this with empathy.
Empathy does not mean giving in to demands that are not in keeping with the plan, but it will make things easier if they can deal with the anger, sadness, or disappointments in a caring and understanding way.
Let Us Help
You want to carefully select an executor who has these characteristics. That may be a trustworthy spouse or child but it could be a trusted attorney or accountant. To find out about the role of an executor and who to choose, contact the Law Office of Andrew Fesler today.