As you get older, you may start thinking about what happens to your possessions left behind after you're gone. Your debts, savings and belongings all need to be handled by someone after your death. Fortunately, you can choose who handles your affairs by making someone the executor of your estate. Once named in your will, the executor or co-executors are in charge of handling all of your estate's business, including bequeathing belongings to the remaining heirs.
Picking an Executor
Make a list of the people in your life that you trust. Since the executor of your estate will be working for months or years on handling your debt and assets, you should choose someone who has your best interests at heart.
Remove anyone from the list who is significantly older than you. You want the best chance that the executor you name will be around to handle the will when you die.
Remove anyone who wouldn't do well with handling important and complicated matters. Estate executors typically locate heirs, perform inventory of your possessions, give notice of your death to banks and other institutions, probate the will and file your last tax return, for instance. The person you choose should be able to handle any of these goals with little fuss or stress.
Remove anyone who lives far away from you. Since the executor will be going through your things and handling local matters, it's best if he lives close by.
Ask your first choice if he would like to be your executor. Even those qualified for the job may not want to deal with the stress involved in the task. Pick someone who is willing to deal with everything involved in the process. If you end up with two people you want for the job, you can name each as co-executors. If your list ends up empty, consider hiring an executor service to handle your estate instead of someone you know.
Read More: What Does it Mean to Be the Executor to a Will?
Making It Official
Visit a lawyer to help you draw up your will. Choose a lawyer who specializes in wills or estate law.
List the person or people you chose as your executor in your will. The "Naming of Executor" section is typically one of the first sections in a will.
Fill out the rest of your will as you see fit, considering your lawyer's suggestions. Fill out elements such as charitable bequests, payment of creditors and specific bequests of property to beneficiaries.
List the various powers the executor should possess at the end of the will. This includes distributing remaining assets or arranging care for minor children. Consult your lawyer for proper verbiage for this section.
Sign the will in the presence of two witnesses. Though notarization is only required in Louisiana, it is still recommended.
- Bankrate.com; Estate Executor -- No Job for Amateurs; Pat Curry
- MedLawPlus.com: How to Create a Last Will and Testament
- Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 559 Survivors, Executors, and Administrators," Page 14. Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 559 Survivors, Executors, and Administrators," Page 3. Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.
- Social Security Administration. "If You Are The Survivor." Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.
- Department of Justice. "206. Priority for the Payment of Claims Due to the Government." Accessed Sept. 18, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Estate Tax." Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 559 Survivors, Executors, and Administrators," Page 13. Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.
Trisha Bartle began her writing career in 2007, with work appearing in publications such as "Adventures for the Average Woman" and DexKnows Weddings. She has also been a professional wedding photographer since 2001. Bartle holds an Associate of Applied Science in programming and game development.