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Posted on February 21st 2006 in Legal Articles

Choosing an Executor

Choosing an Executor

When writing a will, one of the most important considerations is deciding on the person who is going to carry out your final wishes following your death. Contrary to what some think, this challenging and time-consuming job can be more of a burden than an honour. Therefore, it is important that you choose the right person to act as your executor.

The Responsibilities
An executor’s responsibilities begin immediately following the death and may continue for a year or more. They include everything from finding the valid will, to cancelling the newspaper, to filing tax returns. In addition to the various duties, the executor may be personally responsible for financial mistakes he or she makes.

Type of Executors
There are three categories of executors to choose from. You can choose one or a combination of:
• A trusted friend or family member (the most common).
• A professional, such as a lawyer or an accountant.
• A corporate executor, usually a trust company.

There are a number of things to keep in mind when selecting your executor(s) as well as an alternate.
• The person(s) should be someone you trust and who will get along with your family.
• As a practical matter, he or she should live reasonably close to you.
• He or she should have enough time to devote to the job.
• Familiarity with your financial affairs is also helpful.
• Above all he or she should be someone with common sense.

Once you have made your choice, be sure to discuss it with that person(s). This is not something you want sprung on him or her after your death. Ask if he or she is prepared to undertake the responsibilities of an executor. Review the Executor’s Checklist with the person(s).

Anyone who undertakes this demanding job is legally entitled to be compensated. As a general rule, an executor is paid between 3 and 5 percent of the estate’s value. However, this percentage will depend on the actual time and effort involved in overseeing the estate.

Choosing who will manage and distribute your assets is a key decision when drafting your will. Think about it carefully and let your head, not your heart, guide you.