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Choosing an Executor for Your Will

Article Type: Ask a Planner

Q. What are my options for an executor of my will or a trustee of my trust?

A. You have a variety of options when it comes to making this important decision.

  • Family member
  • Trusted friend
  • Trusted advisor
  • Trust company or trust department at a bank
  • In some states, a professional fiduciary

Each of these have advantages and disadvantages, but in any case, you should make sure your selected executor or trustee has the required expertise, integrity and time available. Additionally, consider whether there are family dynamics that would make the job more difficult. Using a non-relative can relieve a family of a lot of unnecessary stress and relational conflict.

Q. Who should I name as my personal representative in my estate plan?

A. A personal representative (also known as an “executor”) is the person you’ve named in your will to carry out your instructions. They may also…

  • Collect and maintain property until your estate is settled,
  • Take care of final expenses, such as paying off debt, utility bills or taxes (funded by your estate), AND
  • Make court appearances on behalf of your estate.

Almost anyone over the age of 18 can serve as a personal representative, but common choices include spouses, siblings and children. The most important qualities in this person are integrity, financial knowledge, dependability, available time and the ability to communicate effectively with those impacted by your estate.

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