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How to choose an executor for your estate

Creating a will is a wise move for everyone, regardless of age or assets. A critical decision you must make somewhere along the way involves naming an executor, or the person you will entrust with seeing that the wishes expressed in your will are carried out in the manner you desire.

Many people immediately think of family members or close family friends when naming an executor, and doing so has both benefits and downfalls. The executor role is one that requires a good degree of responsibility, from filing paperwork at appropriate times to making sure your tax needs are taken care of after your passing. When deciding who to name as your will's executor, consider the following.

A potential executor's age and geographic location

Friends and family members are often chosen because of an existing level of trust, but it is important to take into account the age and overall health of any prospects. To put it bluntly, you want to select someone who is going to outlive you. Additionally, it is wise to consider a prospective executor's location. Not only will it be easier, logistically speaking, for someone to take inventory of your assets and otherwise get your affairs in order if they are geographically close by, but some states even have laws that require that an out-of-state executor be a family member or a beneficiary.

Whether to hire a friend or family member of a professional

While hiring a close friend or family member is commonly thought of as a way to save money (often friends and family members will waive the "executor's fee" that typically comes directly out of the estate), there are several situations in which doing so may prove unwise. Many people are hesitant to leave such a considerable responsibility in the hands of someone who stands to gain something from the will itself. Hiring a professional is also a wise move when there is internal conflict among family members. Finally, you will want to keep in mind that there is a fair degree of work involved once someone is named the executor of your will. Therefore, you may want to avoid naming a spouse or trusted friend who is injured or otherwise limited in terms of mobility.

These are just a few of the considerations you should make in choosing someone as your will's executor. If you have additional questions or believe hiring a professional is best for your specific situation, you may want to get in touch with an attorney.

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