What is the Role of An Executor and How Do I Choose One?

What is the role of an executor and what should I consider when choosing?

When a person dies, what they own forms their estate.  If a person dies with a will, the named executor’s role is to carry out the instructions in the will.  Generally, the executor ensures all debts are paid including funeral costs, locates all assets owned by the deceased and sells or distributes those assets, prepares a final tax return for the deceased, and distributes any residual to the beneficiaries named in the will.  If a person dies without a will or if the named executor(s) cannot or will not fulfil their role, an administrator will be appointed by the court.  

Both executor(s) and administrator(s) are referred to as the personal representative(s) of the estate

How many executors can I appoint?

You can appoint more than one person as your executor, if you appoint two people, both are responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will.  If you choose two people as executors, all decisions would require both executors’ agreement before any action was taken.  If one of your two executors are unable or unwilling to act, the remaining executor can act alone provided you stipulated that in your will.  If you name one person as your executor, you can name an alternate executor in the event your first choice for executor is not able or willing to act.

Who should I choose to be my executor?

Name an executor you trust, often a family member or close friend is a good choice.  Individuals that are familiar with your personal and financial situation including the guardianship planned for minor children, knowledge of the assets you own, the debts you owe and your final wishes for your property also make good candidates for executors.  Other considerations include the individual’s age (someone 19 or older), the individual’s likelihood to outlive you, willingness and ability to take on the role of executor and their proximity to where your estate will be settled are key considerations.  If you do not have a family member or close friend that would be a suitable choice, you can ask a lawyer or appoint a corporate trustee to act as your executor.

Estate planning is an important consideration for all of us and, given the current environment, has become a priority for many of our clients.  Having a Will is one of the most important things you can do to protect you and your family, if you do not have a Will or your Will needs to be updated, we can help.  Milestone Real Estate Lawyers has years of experience in drafting Wills so that your children will have the guardians you have chosen, and your assets go where you want them to go and not where a government statute says they will go. 

We are open and have adapted our practices to ensure continued support for our clients.  If you would like more information please call us at 778-726-0199 and press 4 for our Wills and Estate Team or complete the Milestone Real Estate Lawyer Contact Form.