Choosing an executor is an important part of drafting your will. Your executor will have significant responsibilities; an executor is legally and financially responsible for the settling of your estate, including any errors. Responsibilities include managing the disbursement of estate assets, filing final tax returns and other important paperwork.
Below are a few factors to consider when selecting your executor:
Age and health of individual. Selecting someone who is older has pitfalls. Your executor may predecease you or be infirm and therefore be unable to act for your estate when the time comes.
Complexity of your estate. If your estate is more complex, it is important to select someone who has the knowledge and expertise to manage the affairs. This may mean selecting a professional executor or co-executor for your estate. A complex estate would include assets which require complex valuation, such as a private corporation, shares in a business, or cross-border assets.
Complex family relationships. A family member may seem like a logical choice, but this may not be suitable if there are complex family relationships. Conflict between an executor and other family members could prevent your wishes from being carried out as intended. Dealing with challenging family dynamics during the unwinding of an estate may also lead to conflict and long-term family rifts.
How close are you to the individual. It is also important to keep in mind how close you are to the executor. If you select your closest friend, this may not be suitable as this individual may be grieving. Handling your estate may be too difficult and the process may be delayed.
The time commitment required. Depending on the complexity of your estate, the time commitment may be considerable. You want to ensure that your executor is able to commit the time required to complete the process.
Depending on these factors, it may be desirable to appoint a professional co-executor such as a lawyer, accountant, banker or financial advisor who can offer an unbiased, objective opinion if conflict arises. A professional co-executor will also provide expertise that will be useful when handling more complex issues.