One big choice you have to make when estate planning is choosing your executor. Executors have a variety of responsibilities, so it’s important to select a person who has shown financial responsibility, stability, and honesty.
It’s best to pick someone that can avoid a conflict of interest, meaning they do not have any stake in the estate. We recommend a friend or trusted business acquaintance, but not a family member named in the will, or a business partner. Be sure the person you select understands the extent of the commitment.
Here’s a list of some of the tasks the executor performs:
- pay off utility bills and close accounts
- sell vehicles, as necessary, handle disposal of driver’s license, contact DMV
- handle real estate sales
- oversee the liquidation of assets such as stocks, bonds, etc.
- cancel cell phone service, transfer or dispose of cell phone
- contact the benefits department of employer to arrange distribution to beneficiaries
- change or deactivate social media accounts
- file tax return
The job of executor can be large, but the executor doesn’t have to do it alone. Often times an executor chooses to pay a professional to take care of most of the administration.
Ultimately, the most important advice we can give is to take the time to select someone (and a backup, if possible). Otherwise the government will choose someone for you.