One of the most critical decisions when drafting a will and estate plan is picking the estate administrator, also known as the executor or executrix. This role oversees the probate process and administers the decedent’s estate, ensuring their wishes are carried out and beneficiaries and heirs receive the promised bequests. They also close the estate, collect all debts owed and pay taxes and any outstanding bills.
How do you know you made the right choice estate administrator? Knowing who makes a good one can make the decision easier.
Understanding the role of trustee
The trustee has a legal obligation to manage the estate and follow through on the decedent’s wishes. Your choice for the job should respect and appreciate your financial philosophies. There should be a high level of trust between you. Additionally, the executor should be comfortable handling paperwork, contacting beneficiaries and managing fiduciary obligations.
Determining whether a trustee can handle the responsibility
There are several traits and a few restrictions to keep in mind when choosing an executor/executrix. Generally speaking, they must be of sound mind and over 18 (unless a younger person is specifically named). Other traits to look for include:
- Someone honest and reliable
- Someone who has the time to do the work
- Someone interested in doing the work
- Someone comfortable making decisions
- Someone who lives in the state (If the estate is in Kentucky, probate is in Kentucky.)
- Someone who is comfortable handling money and responsibility
Professionals can do this work
While this often falls to a spouse or child, the best person for the job may be an estate law attorney who understands the probate process and obligations. They also provide the added benefit of impartiality, which can minimize disputes between family members or beneficiaries. Many still choose a family member to oversee the process, with the understanding that an attorney handles many of the details.