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What is an Executor and How Do I choose One?

Choosing an executor is a challenging, yet necessary decision you must make when preparing your Will. Your executor will be responsible for making important decisions, on your behalf when you are no longer living.

In this article, we will cover the basics you need to know before choosing an executor so you can feel confident in your decision.

What is an Executor?

Ideally a spouse, relative or close friend, an Executor will help execute the wishes outlined in your will, distribute funds to your beneficiaries, and can act on behalf of your business and financial interests when you die.

When and why do I need to name an Executor?

It’s important to name an executor because they will be the person in charge of taking care of your estate. If you do not choose one before you die, the courts will be in charge of handling your estate affairs in a way which you may not have wanted.

Responsibilities may include paying off estate debts and expenses, recovering money owed, or distributing assets and gifts to the proper beneficiaries. It can also involve more sensitive subjections surrounding your final wishes, such as organization your funeral or cremation.

How does this differ from an Estate Trustee? Are they the same role?

An Executor and an Estate Trustee are two different roles, but the same person can fulfill them. The difference is that executors take care of the entire estate, while a trustee would only handle the trust, and work with beneficiaries named in that trust.

Can I choose more than one Executor?

With the Willful platform, you can only choose one executor, as choosing more than one would be considered duel or co-executors. This can create problems if they disagree on specific duties.

However, we do highly recommend choosing a backup executor. Your initial choice may turn you down or something could happen to them and result in not being able to perform their duties. There is a spot to add a backup on the Willful platform in the Executor and Trustee section.

How do I choose an Executor?

Here are some important things to consider when selecting an executor for your will.

Choose someone who is comfortable with the responsibility Being an executor can be a stressful role, especially under the circumstances. They must be an organized and levelheaded person, able to make critical decisions during a potentially stressful time.

Choose someone who will be available Is your executor available to take on this role? Choosing someone who is available both physically in terms of location, and mentally is essential. A person who loves to travel or lives off the grid may not be the best person to pick.

Choose someone you trust Although the plan you outlined as stated in the Will is a legally binding document, it’s still important to choose someone that you believe can execute your wishes with ease.

Choose someone who is likely to be alive Morbid we know, but choosing someone who is expected to be alive and in good health after you’re no longer around will avoid any headaches for your family down the road.

Review your executor regularly Like the rest of your will, you should review and update it as life happens. Monumental moments such as the birth or adoption of a child, moving to a new home, or divorce may trigger you to make changes to your will and to review your chosen executor.

Inform your Executor

Lastly, it’s important to remember to sit down with your chosen executor to make sure they are willing to take on the role, go over the essential responsibilities and to inform them where they can find the most recent copy of your will and other information they may need to settle your affairs. You should also register your will on to ensure your executor knows where it is - so if they forget, or you forget to tell them, your executor can perform a search to find out exactly where it’s located.