Estate executors (known as a personal representatives, in Massachusetts) hold very important responsibilities. They must carry out a wide range of tasks and ensure that assets are distributed properly to heirs per the terms of your will. As you consider candidates, keep in mind these qualities of a good estate executor.
1 – Well Organized
Put simply, estate executors have a lot to do. They must complete the probate process, gather information on all assets and debts, complete the sale of physical assets, keep track of all transactions, and more. Someone who is well organized will have an easier time managing all of this on your behalf.
2 – Financially Competent
Managing an estate involves a lot of financials. As we all know, some people are simply awful with numbers and money. Those individuals are probably not a great choice as executors. Instead, consider someone with a good financial foundation. An estate executor should be able to balance a checkbook, calculate market value and profit/loss, conduct common banking transactions, etc. A great way to gauge someone’s financial skills is to see how they manage their own money. Are they financially stable? Do they pay their debts (credit card, mortgage, etc.) on time? Do they have a good credit score? Have they bought and sold assets? Do they manage assets or debts that are similar to your own?
3 – Trustworthy
One of the most important qualities of a good estate executor is being trustworthy. When you empower someone to execute your estate plan, you are entrusting them with everything you’ve accumulated over your lifetime and the future well-being of your heirs/beneficiaries. Sadly, there is always the potential for abuse and theft of estate assets. Selecting someone deserving of your trust is extremely important.
4 – Responsible
Another helpful trait of a good executor is being responsible,… and related to that, practicing good judgement. There are a lot of decisions to make throughout the estate settlement process. An executor must know what he/she can handle and when it’s better to hire a professional. He/she should also be timely and follow-up on important tasks.
5 – Communication Skills
Finally, among the qualities of a good estate executor is effective communication skills. Executors must communicate with many different parties. They keep heirs and beneficiaries updated, connect with service providers, work with creditors and asset managers, and many others throughout the process. Good communication skills ensure that everyone is on the same page and reduces potential misunderstandings and conflicts.
Summary of Qualities of a Good Estate Executor
It can be tough finding someone who possesses all of these qualities of a good estate executor. It’s worth noting that estate executors need not be heirs or beneficiaries of your estate. It can be someone unrelated, such as a trusted friend or colleague. It can even be a completely neutral party, such as an attorney. If you are struggling with this decision, discuss options with your Massachusetts estate planning attorney. Sometimes an objective perspective can bring clarity to your decision.