When you write up your will you need to choose individuals for a few positions: executor, guardian (if you have minor children), and trustee (if you have a revocable or irrevocable trust).

Your executor is responsible for making sure that your assets are protected and appropriately distributed to your beneficiaries.  The executor is entrusted with the large responsibility of ensuring that a person’s last wishes are granted with regards to the deposition of their property and possessions.  It is their job to make sure that any debts and creditors that the deceased had are paid off, and that any remaining money or property is distributed according to the wishes stated in the will.

Your trustee is responsible for managing the property owned by the trust for the benefit of its beneficiaries.  He or she is placed in charge of overseeing the day-to-day management of the property and assets placed in a trust.  The exact duties vary based on what type of assets the trust owns.  If the trust consists of bank and investment accounts, the trustee would then be responsible for overseeing these accounts.  A trustee can be an individual, an institution like a bank or trust company, or a combination of both.

These duties require a great deal of time and effort, as well as the ability to make wise decisions.

Choosing an executor or trustee is one of the most important decisions you will make when preparing your will.  You are putting this person or institution in charge of administering your estate and carrying out your final wishes.

5 Qualities to Look for in an Executor or Trustee

The person you choose to act as your executor or trustee should be someone who:

  • You trust to manage your affairs the way you want it done.
  • Lives fairly close to you, as this makes it easier for them to work with your family and handle your assets.
  • Preferably has some knowledge in the field of taxes, investments and financial decision-making, or at least knows to approach experts in these fields for advice and help as needed.
  • Is good at accomplishing what needs to be done.
  • Is likely to live longer than you. There have an astounding number of cases over the years when the person named as an executor or trustee actually passed away on an earlier date and another name was not provided in the will or trust to take over the position.

3 Considerations When Choosing an Executor or Trustee

  • Consider choosing an estates professional to act as your executor or trustee. Many individuals choose family members or close friends to handle their estate. However, if your estate is complex or if you are concerned about the potential for family conflicts, then appointing an estates professional may be your best choice.
  • Consider naming multiple executors or trustees. You might want to name an estates professional as well as a close family member or friend.
  • Considering naming a back up or alternative. This is important if your original choice is not able to take on the task for any variety of reasons, such as their own health, personal matters, or the fact that they have already passed away.

ASK

Before listing an individual as your executor or trustee make sure you talk to them and ask if they are okay with you giving them this responsibility.  At the same time, you can sit down and have a discussion regarding your wishes.  It is also essential that the executor of your will knows where you keep all of your important documents or, even better, has a copy of all of those documents.