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Who will you name as executor in your will?

Planning for the future is a smart decision on your part, and you have concluded that the first step is to draw up your will.

Now you are beginning to think about naming an executor. What will the duties be? What kind of traits should this person have? In short, who should you choose as your personal representative?

Initial responsibilities

The main responsibility of your executor will be to manage your estate after your death, protect your assets and distribute your property to beneficiaries according to your wishes. Once the executor has your will in hand, the next task is to obtain copies of the death certificate, which will be given to the funeral home as well as banks, investment firms, your life insurance company and perhaps other entities such as the Social Security Administration.

The executor will also need to locate your assets. These would include, among other items, bank accounts; property deeds; and information regarding business interests, collectibles and intellectual property.

Paying out

Your executor will be in charge of paying your final debts and taxes. He or she should make sure that the assets in the estate are sufficient to cover these payments. If not, the probate judge will take on the task of prioritizing creditors.

Abilities and skills

Having a good background in business would be a plus, but common sense will be just as valuable in the individual you choose as executor. You want someone who can make good decisions, someone who will not cave to pressure from impatient beneficiaries, someone who will attend to details and not miss anything.

Also, be sure that your selection is likely to be around after you are gone. Choosing a favorite uncle might not be a good idea, for example, if he is 20 years your senior.

Asking for help

When you choose your executor, you should consider someone who will not be shy about seeking professional advice and assistance when necessary from an accountant or appraiser.

Your personal representative will undoubtedly want to seek the assistance of an attorney to ensure that no legal missteps are made in winding up your estate, going through the probate process and making the appropriate distributions.

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