How to choose the right executor for your will

Published 5:40 pm Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dear Savvy Senior,

What are my options for choosing an executor for my will? I was considering asking one of my kids to do it but I don’t think any of them are up for the job. What can you tell me?

~ Still Kicking

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Dear Kicking,

Choosing an executor – the person or institution you put in charge of administering your estate and carrying out your final wishes – is one of the most important decisions in preparing a will.

Picking the right executor can help ensure the prompt, accurate distribution of your possessions with a minimum of family friction. Some of the duties required include:

• Filing court papers to start the probate process (generally required by law to determine the will’s validity).

• Taking an inventory of everything in the estate.

• Using your estate’s funds to pay bills, including taxes, funeral costs, etc.

• Handling details like terminating credit cards, and notifying banks and government agencies like Social Security and the post office of the death.

• Preparing and filing final income tax returns.

• Distributing assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Given all the responsibility, the ideal candidate should be someone who is honest, dependable, well organized, good with paperwork and vigilant about meeting deadlines.