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How to choose an executor for your estate

Planning for your passing may seem like a depressing task, but proper preparation will give you peace of mind knowing that you're taking care of your family and ensuring your wishes come to fruition. Preparation requires more than just writing a will, however. You also need to name an executor of your estate. It's important to choose the person wisely to prevent the court having to, so consider the following information as you make your decision.

What does an executor do?

Understanding the responsibilities of an executor will help you decide whom to appoint to this role. These are the duties of an executor:

  • Probate the will.
  • Gather and inventory assets.
  • Pay debts and taxes (which may require liquidating assets).
  • Distribute assets to beneficiaries.

You may grant the executor additional powers if necessary. Although the work is mainly financial, the executor may also need legal knowledge depending on the size and complexity of your estate.

What type of person makes a qualified executor?

The first person you may think to name executor is a spouse or family member, but that may not be the best choice. Loved ones can have conflicts of interest or be overwhelmed with grief or taking care of minor children. Family members make better co-executors, relieving some of the burden while ensuring someone who knows you well is involved in handling your estate.

Business partners are another option, yet they may have conflicts of interest as well and may be better co-executors. An attorney with experience in Florida estate law is usually a better choice, especially if you have numerous, high-value assets. An experienced lawyer will have the knowledge, resources and time to manage a high-asset estate and any hurdles or unpleasant tasks, such as will contests.

The only people you can't choose are minors, non-U.S. citizens, convicted felons and anyone who is not mentally or physically capable of the job. Florida requires an out-of-state executor to be related to you. If you also have a living trust, it's recommended that the executor and trustee be the same person. Always name a backup executor in case your first choice becomes unable or unwilling to serve, otherwise the court will appoint one for you.

How do you name an executor?

Naming an executor is as simple as putting it in your will. However, to ensure thoroughness and compliance to state laws, it's best to use the services of a Florida attorney with experience in estate planning. It's never too early to start preparing for the future.

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