Probate is the process where someone checks your will is legitimate, settles your debts and pays any taxes before distributing your estate to the appropriate beneficiaries. You should appoint an executor to carry out the probate process as per your wishes.
These are some things to consider before naming an executor:
- Are they organized and willing to learn? They do not need to be an expert. An attorney can help them through the process. However, they should be capable of working through things in a methodical fashion and admitting when they do not know something.
- Are they likely to be available and capable? Your older brother may be perfect for the task, but if he is 15 years your senior, chances are he won’t be around when you die. Remember, you can and should revise your will regularly. It could make sense to name a sibling for the moment and update it once your children become old enough to take on the mantel.
- Is one enough? In most cases, one person is sufficient to execute a will. If your estate is incredibly complex, you may choose two people with complementary talents to co-execute. However, this could make things harder if they disagree. It is better to spend time making your estate plan clear and easy to follow so that one person can carry it out with the minimum of fuss.
- Are they happy to do it? Your chosen person needs to understand and accept the responsibility before you name them. Adding a backup option avoids delays if your first choice is unavailable.
Seek legal help if you need to choose an executor for your will, or if you have to execute someone’s will.