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Considerations for picking the executor of your will

Part of creating a will is picking someone to serve as its executor. You need to trust this person with the inheritances of your family members. You also need to feel as though he or she could actually do the job.

You also need to make sure that he or she can legally serve in this capacity. Do you even know what duties your executor must fulfill? Before making your final choice, finding the answers to all of these concerns could give you peace that you made the right decision.

Let's get the legal requirements out of the way

When acting as an executor, an individual will need to complete the following, at a minimum:

  • Attend court appearances
  • Gather, maintain, inventory and protect all of your property
  • Pay any bills and taxes you owed at the time of your death
  • Pay any taxes owed on the estate
  • Distribute the estate's remaining assets in accordance with your will's instructions

There could also be other tasks for your executor to attend to depending on the circumstances. Many estate administrations go smoothly, but every so often, issues arise that require additional court appearances, funds, time and effort. For example, if a member of your family decides to contest the will or ask the court to remove your choice of executor, he or she will need to represent the estate's interests.

Let's consider other factors

Nearly anyone can serve as your executor as long as you believe he or she is up to taking on the tasks above. However, your decision involves more than just the ability to do the work. You need to make sure you trust the person to carry out your wishes. You may also want to make sure that he or she is good at communication and organization. You do not have to choose someone with legal or accounting knowledge, however. While it may help, it is not required.

Your executor only needs the ability to find the appropriate guidance and support in completing his or her tasks. It would also help to choose someone who lives closer to you rather than farther away. He or she may need to take physical possession of your assets, appear in an Illinois court and work with heirs and beneficiaries. All of these tasks are better completed in person. One last important qualification is that he or she is willing to serve as your executor.

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Leonard F. Berg, Attorney at Law