When it comes to choosing an executor for a will, many people who create them often go the default route. They automatically choose their oldest child to oversee this extremely responsible role of settling the estate, distributing assets, paying outstanding bills and taxes, and trying to settle disputes should any arise.

That is a fine approach for some situations, but not all. Sometimes, the adult child may feel uncomfortable and unqualified or just plain hesitant to perform the executor duties. Or maybe the character of your chosen son or daughter has come into question. When choosing an executor, ideally, you need to find someone who is trustworthy, dedicated and patient as well as someone who can distance himself or herself from the personal facets of the estate.

Financially savvy and reliable

A great amount of thought goes into creating an estate plan. And one of those areas that cannot be overlooked is choosing a competent executor; ideally, one who is financially savvy. When making that selection, here are some key points to consider:

  • When pondering candidates, think of attributes such as trustworthiness, loyalty, reliability and financial savviness.
  • Discuss the subject with the person or persons you are considering. Make sure they are comfortable and confident in fulfilling the executor role, which can be complicated and time-consuming. And, of course, ensure that they have a history of financial responsibility.
  • Consider naming co-executors. Related to this subject, always have a back-up executor listed, too. That person could be another trusted individual that you know or even a representative or attorney from a trust company.

However, you also must remember that, over time, things change. And some of those changes may take place in the relationship with the person you chose as the executor. Perhaps, over time, the values of the two of you have diverged or you no longer are close. These are likely the times to consider replacing that person as executor.