Most people are uncomfortable talking about their own mortality, but it’s important to plan for your wishes at the end of your life. If you have a spouse, children or grandchildren, having a will in place will provide for your family’s future needs and ensure that your preferences are followed.

When you create a will, one of the components involved in the process is designating an executor to administer your will once you pass on. The executor is responsible for following your wishes outlined in the will and executing the will according to the law.

Who to choose

An executor can be a trusted family member, friend or third party, such as a bank or trust corporation, but the duties are considerable, so you want to give the choice careful thought. When choosing, you are looking for someone who is organized, thoughtful, trustworthy and responsible. You also want someone who will be willing to seek professional legal and financial help throughout the process, as the job can easily become overwhelming.

Duties of an executor

The job of an executor includes:

  • Conducting an inventory of the property and assets.
  • Appraising and securing the assets.
  • Paying debts or creditors with money from the estate.
  • Satisfying outstanding tax burdens.
  • Distributing the funds to the beneficiaries as outlined.
  • Closing the estate according to the state laws.

Throughout the process of settling the estate, the executor needs to have an open line of communication with the beneficiaries and other involved parties. They will also need to create and leave a paper trail for transparency.

Once you’ve decided on your executor, be sure to communicate your wishes and preferences with the person, and most importantly, get their approval to take on the task. While creating your will, your estate attorney will guide you in the right direction and help you to iron out the details.