Selecting an Executor for Your Estate

What are the traits of a good executor?

The role of executor is an important one.  The individual you name as executor to your estate will essentially be tasked with stepping into your shoes and fulfilling all legal tasks that you would have completed during your lifetime.  Additionally, your executor will face the difficult job of ultimately distributing the assets held within your estate to your named heirs. Our Orange County estate planning attorneys explain what factors you should consider when naming your estate executor below.

Naming an Executor

California law allows you to nominate a qualified individual to serve as executor within your will. The court will need to approve the nomination and the executor must accept appointment.  If the court rejects the nominee or the executor elects not to fulfill the role, then the court will look to the second nominated executor.  Should no other executor be listed in the will, the court will be forced to appoint one.

Nominate Someone Who is Responsible

Perhaps the number one trait of a good executor is being responsible.  Your executor need not be an accountant or attorney, but he or she does need to be responsible enough to handle the duties of executor and hire people to assist in financial and legal matters.  Most people first turn to a responsible friend or family member, but alternatively you can consider nominating a professional like a bank, attorney, or accountant.  Know that your estate will likely pay an additional fee for these professional services.

Take into Account the Age of Your Nominees

You may only end up drafting one will during your lifetime.  To avoid needing to make changes or updates to your will, you will want to ensure your named executor, or an alternative executor, will be alive at the time of your death.  If your primary executor is 40 years or older, consider naming a younger alternative executor.  In doing so, you avoid the possibility that neither of your executors is alive or up to the task and the court is forced to name its own executor.

Select Someone With a Solid Financial History

Your executor may need to “bonded,” which is a form of insurance required by many courts.  The insurance serves the purpose of ensuring heirs will receive their deserved funds even if the executor commits fraud of some sort.  The bonding company is not likely to bond someone with a very poor credit history or a history of recent bankruptcy, so take your potential nominee’s finances into account when making a final decision.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.