In your will you can designate someone to serve as the executor of your estate. This is an important role, as the executor will be tasked with overseeing the probate process, ensuring all assets are collected, debts and taxes paid, heirs are located and finally distributing assets to your heirs per the terms of your will.
So, who should you choose to serve as executor? You have many options, all with their benefits and drawbacks.
Choosing a relative or friend
It may seem like common sense to choose someone you are close to to serve as executor. This may be beneficial as they will have an emotional attachment and may be willing to take on the duties of executor out of love.
However, even if they want to serve as executor a friend or relative may be overwhelmed by the many steps in the probate process and may find that the entire process is time-consuming and burdensome. This can be problematic, especially if they have a full time job or are busy raising a family.
In addition, if the person you choose as executor is also an heir this can be a conflict of interest. Moreover, if you do decide to choose a loved one to serve as executor, you may want to choose someone on the younger side, as it will not help to have chosen an executor who has predeceased you.
Choosing a professional
An option you may not have initially considered is choosing a professional, such as an attorney or a financial institution, to serve as executor. The benefits of this are that they are neutral so there is no conflict of interest. In addition, they are familiar with the probate rules and requirements which can help make the entire process run smoothly. One drawback is the services of these professionals cost money which will be paid out of your estate, meaning there is less to go around to your heirs.
You have a lot to consider when choosing an executor. You want to make sure you end up choosing someone who is responsible, willing and able to fulfill that role. It may be a loved one or it may be a professional, but in the end, it is to your benefit to choose the person you best believe can handle the probate process.