For some to choose an executor of an estate is a simple matter. For others this may not be a simple matter. What are the matters you should take into account in selecting someone to be the executor of an estate?
Appointing More Than One Executor
If one predeceases or refuses to act and there are other executors named in the Will the others can just proceed on to apply for Probate. This is the obvious benefit of having more than one executor.
If you name only one executor and he/she were to die or isn’t able to act there will be no one to act as executor.
Someone else will have to step up to apply for Letters of Administration with Will Annexed. That is the process that has to happen. That someone may not be someone you would have chosen or even trust.
If you can, you should appoint at least two executors. If you’re married, we suggest your spouse and one other person.
Relevant Skills An Executor May Need
Most estates are likely to be completed and resolved relatively quickly.
For such estates it may not matter much what skills or experience the executor has. After all, most (if not all) executors will instruct lawyers to act for the estate to apply for Probate. Most executors will have the benefit of legal advice available throughout. This significantly reduces the need for special skills/experience.
For estates with infant beneficiaries it could be years before the estate is fully distributed and finalized. In such cases, it would be useful to appoint as executor someone with some financial knowledge or experience.
Remember lawyers cannot provide financial advice. The executor will have to decide what assets to convert to cash and what assets to retain, etc. The ability to make sound financial decisions will be important for estates with infant beneficiaries. Ideally someone with some experience managing money should be chosen.
Some people automatically discount older persons as executors. The possibility that the Will may have to be changed if the executor predeceases makes them rule out older executors. However, this is hardly the worst thing that can happen. Certainly a person’s age shouldn’t be the main consideration for every estate.
Where there are no infant beneficiaries the estate can be wrapped up quickly. Not considering an older person to be executor would may make sense for such an estate. A will appointing a younger person as executor may not need to be changed for a long time.
For estates that are wrapped up quickly the role of executor will segue into the role of trustee seamlessly. Not so for estates with infant beneficiaries.
It may seem counter intuitive to appoint anyone much older to be executor and trustee. However, there are good reasons to do so despite the possibility of him/her predeceasing. Someone who has young children may decide that the wisdom of an older person as executor is preferable.
Such an estate could take years before it can be finalized and have everything distributed. Decisions may need to be made about advancing part of a child’s inheritance to pay for education, maintenance of the child, schooling costs, etc. The executor may also have to decide whether or not to sell the family home or rent it out until the beneficiaries are old enough to decide on their own.
With infant beneficiaries you may not want to discount someone older and wiser as executor and trustee.