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What should you consider when choosing an executor?

One of the most important decisions you'll make when developing your estate plan is deciding who will be your executor. Generally, people choose their spouse, an adult child or sibling for this position. However, it can be just about anyone you feel will be willing and able to carry out the responsibilities.

When deciding whom to choose, it's essential to look for someone with the following qualities:

  • Organized
  • Honest
  • A good communicator
  • Able to deal with conflicts that may arise among family and/or beneficiaries

It's also a good idea to choose someone who lives nearby, as there may be legal issues that require him or her to appear in person, either in court or your attorney's office. It's also convenient for the executor to be close to assets like your home, which may require maintenance and upkeep until it's sold.

If the executor is a significant beneficiary in your will, he or she will have an added incentive to ensure that the disposition of the estate is handled efficiently. You can also designate an additional amount or percentage of money from the estate to the executor for his or her services.

You should never appoint someone as your executor without discussing it with him or her first. It's important that the executor understand the responsibilities of the role. These can include:

  • Paying estate taxes
  • Paying bills
  • Maintaining property in the estate until it's sold
  • Distributing assets

It's wise to designate an alternative executor, if possible, in case the person you've chosen can't or chooses not to take on the responsibility after you die. Of course, as with all aspects of your estate plan, you may need to change your executor. For example, the person you've designated may pass away before you do.

The role of executor shouldn't require any special legal or financial expertise if you have a thorough estate plan. The more complete your plan, the less your executor will have to do. Your Maryland estate planning attorney will be able to help and advise that person when the time comes.

Source: FindLaw, "Choosing the Executor FAQ," accessed Dec. 21, 2017

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