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How do you pick the executor of your estate?

One of the hardest things about drafting an estate plan isn't facing your own mortality -- it's picking the executor.

Why is it so difficult? Mostly because there are a lot of different factors to consider, not the least of which are family dynamics. Here are the top things you need to think about in order to choose the right executor for your estate:

1. Will your choice resonate well with your family?

If your oldest child expects to be named executor simply because he or she is the oldest, naming your youngest might cause unnecessary tensions. If your heirs generally don't get along, it might even be better to name an attorney or friend your executor instead -- just to cut down on drama. Avoiding a fight in the family is important because the legal issues can end up draining your estate of its value.

2. Can your choice handle the job?

Being an executor doesn't take a law degree, but it does take organization and common sense. It also takes someone who can handle a little pressure -- just in case one of your heirs tries to get around your will through bullying. Make sure that your choice for executor knows how to set boundaries and will get assistance from a professional to handle the paperwork if necessary.

3. Will your choice be physically capable of the job?

You have to take into consideration your executor's health and age when assigning him or her the task. You naturally want to pick someone younger than you, whenever possible. You also want someone who isn't distracted by health obligations, financial woes or family troubles. Make sure that your executor's life is fairly stable before you assign him or her this task.

4. Is your choice willing to serve?

Never name someone an executor of your estate until you've discussed the issue with him or her in advance. You don't want to put that burden on someone who is unwilling to serve.

Finally, just as a matter of caution, run through this list every few years and see if your choice needs to be changed. That way, you're assured that your estate plans really are complete.

Source: AARP, "Choose the Right Executor or Trustee," G.M . Filisko, accessed April 06, 2018

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