What Should You Look for When Choosing an Executor?

After your death, you will no longer have control over what happens to your property and assets, so you want to pick the right person to serve as the executor of your estate. You want to avoid potential issues with your pick, though. Choosing the wrong executor may cause significant problems with passing your estate to your heirs. 

Being aware of potential issues that might arise by choosing the wrong executor may help you to avoid picking someone that cannot or will not fulfill your wishes for your estate. Kiplinger describes some potential scenarios to try to avoid as you decide on your executor. 


You might first write your will while you are young. If you live for a long time, perhaps fifty years or more, chances are the person you name to be your executor might be in ill health, unable to serve, or dead by the time you die. Revising your will to name someone younger than yourself to be a co-executor or a backup executor may help keep your estate in the hands of someone you know and trust. 


It is natural to want a family member like a child to serve as your executor. But if you have two children who do not get along, you may have a serious problem. The non-executor child may resent the other child and find some reason to litigate the executor child. Conversely, the executor child may make it harder for the other child to inherit from the estate. In such situations, you may have to pick someone else who can be more neutral, someone unaffected by the conflict. 


Executors must meet qualifications under law to serve. You cannot, for instance, name a minor to be your executor if the minor is still underage after your death. Courts also generally disqualify candidates convicted of a felony. In addition, courts usually do not approve people that they do not have jurisdiction over, so they may not approve executor candidates who are not U.S. citizens. 


A court may also disapprove of your executor if your candidate has too many financial problems, like liens and creditor claims, or a previous stint in bankruptcy. Many courts require executors to receive a form of insurance called bonding. This serves to pay beneficiaries if the executor steals their inheritance. Since people with poor credit histories may not receive bonding, a court might not approve them.