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Do I need to name an executor in my will?

Have you ever wondered who will manage your estate and the probate process after you die? If you have close family members, such as a spouse or children, the answer may seem obvious. There are many people, however, who may not be so sure. In such a case, failing to name an executor may place the estate in the hands of someone whom you wouldn't have chosen yourself.

Even for those with family members they are sure will be willing to serve as an executor, it can be helpful to name someone legally in the will. For example, you may ultimately survive your spouse. In that case, the role would fall to your children. Unfortunately, if one child is not explicitly named, it may cause a problem when they try to pick who will become the executor. That's why it's always the safest choice to legally list someone in your will as the person who will handle your estate.

Role of an executor

You understand why naming an executor is vital–but it's also essential to know what they will be responsible for before you choose one. There are many duties of an executor, but here are a few main ones:

  • Handle probate court: An executor must submit your will to a probate court to begin the process of distributing the estate. Dealing with the judicial process can require lots of paperwork and time. If someone decides to contest your will, they will also need to handle that.
  • Manage and distribute your assets: All the things that have monetary value will need to be dealt with by the executor. This duty may require some research on their part to find all your belongings, bank accounts and more.
  • Pay debts & taxes: The executor must also pay any outstanding debts and taxes, if any. The money itself will come from the estate, and the person you name will not be responsible for paying out of pocket. Even so, they must pay careful attention in order to avoid legal problems in the future.

Choosing your executor

With these responsibilities in mind, you should choose someone who you think will be able to manage all of them. A spouse is a common choice, but if that is not an option in your situation, you must decide who will be able to carry out your wishes. No matter who it is, make sure to have an open and honest discussion with them about your expectations.

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