CHOOSING THE EXECUTOR OR TRUSTEE
One of the most important decisions you'll make is picking the person (or persons or institution)
to be in charge of your assets after you're gone. That means the executor of your will and the trustee of
any trusts you set up. (Another important decision, choosing a guardian for your minor children, is
discussed in chapter six; choosing an agent for your power of attorney is discussed in chapter twelve.)
The tasks of each of these fiduciaries (people who are legally obliged to act in your interests) differ
slightly, so we'll discuss the factors you should consider for each separately.
You can choose more than one person to fulfill these duties: co-executors or co-trustees. This is
a way to ensure that at least one person has legal or financial expertise and one is close to the family. If
you choose this course, be sure to pick people or entities that can work together. You must also choose
a successor in case your first choice dies or is unable to serve.
Choosing the executor
Who will be the person or institution responsible for administering your estate through probate?
Chapter eleven spells out what the executor does, but the most important thing is that you pick someone
who is financially responsible, stable, and trustworthy.
The law requires an executor because someone must be responsible for collecting the assets of
the estate, protecting the estate property, preparing an inventory of the property, paying valid claims
against the estate (including taxes), representing the estate in claims against others, and, finally,
distributing the estate property to the beneficiaries. These last two functions may require liquidating
assets; that is, selling items like stocks, bonds, even furniture or a car to have enough cash to pay taxes,
creditors or beneficiaries. The will can impose additional duties not required by law on the executor:
choosing beneficiaries or distributing personal property, even investing funds.
Sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it? It can