Part of the estate planning process involves choosing an executor for your estate. Traditionally, the oldest child was given the responsibility of acting as the executor of his or her parent's estate. However, age alone doesn't make someone the best candidate for the job.
Being an executor involves a great deal of responsibility. The person you choose must be very detail oriented and able to tactfully handle disputes between your heirs while still abiding by the terms of your will. Although a financial or legal background isn't necessary, many people do find that it is helpful in understanding the duties of the position.
Do not be afraid to chose your middle or youngest child as your executor if he or she has the best temperament for the job. Or, if you don't believe any family members are suitable, you can name a bank's trust department for the task instead.
Before formally naming someone as executor, it's best to get their permission. Don't assume that the person you've selected is comfortable with being given this responsibility. Executors are allowed to turned down the role if they so chose, so there is no way you can legally force an unwilling person into the role.
Even if you've discussed the issue at length with your first choice, it's still smart to name an alternate successor as well. Your first choice might be ill, injured, traveling for work, or otherwise unavailable when he or she is needed. Without a successor listed, the court would end up appointing someone to the role.
Generally, only one person serves as executor at a time to reduce the amount of paperwork involved and the time spent on court proceedings. However, there are circumstances where joint executors would be a good choice. For example, an adult child might be needed to assist an elderly surviving spouse or two adult children who get along well and have both been actively involved in their parent's care might wish to handle the job together.
How Can We Help?
If you are in need of assistance creating an estate plan, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com. Our Pasadena estate planning firm can help you evaluate your options and create an estate plan that best addresses your unique needs.