You should never minimize the decision of who will serve as the executor of your estate or trustee of your trust after you pass away. It is important to engage in a careful thought process before making this decision, and a counseling-based estate planning attorney is a great place to start.
Your executor might be a member of your family, your financial advisor, a business associate, a trusted friend, an accountant or an estate beneficiary. Your will should also name at least one contingent executor in the event that the first person you choose is unable or simply unwilling to serve.
Characteristics of a good executor should be someone who is skilled with communication, organized and honest. The person should be able to handle these sensitive matters in a caring way but also be able to stand up to someone who proves to be difficult.
With modern court rules and the vast communication options we have these days, choosing someone who lives in Georgia is not required or even recommended if there is another potential helper you feel is more qualified than a local option. It is important to choose someone who is familiar with financial matters in general, and ideally your financial and family matters. Being up to speed about family specifics can make the process much smoother.
For complicated estates or estates with the high possibility of family conflict, a third party executor or trustee may be advisable. We often look to a family’s CPA or trusted family friend with a financial background first. If no such advisor exists, you can select a financial institution or bank to serve as the executor or trustee.
Your choice of executor should not be based on what you think you are expected to do, such as name the eldest or closest child, but should be based on your current feelings about who will do the best job. With that said, many factors go into making this selection, and it is vitally important to review your estate plan to make sure it stays up-to-date and continues to reflect your wishes. The person or people you select have an important responsibility for settling your estate and ensuring that your wishes are carried out. Once your proposed selection is made, it is important to speak to the person to make sure they are willing to serve in that capacity and have the opportunity to ask you questions about your expectations.
Consulting with a Georgia estate planning attorney can help you in the process of identifying an appropriate executor. To find out more about the roles of your financial helpers, as well as the roles of other helpers in your estate plan, join us at our monthly Client Orientation Meeting held the Second Tuesday of each month at 2 pm, right at our office. Call (229) 333-0860 to make a reservation today!