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Choosing an Executor

attorney talking with a couple about executors

Choosing an executor is a vital part of the estate planning process, no matter the size of the estate. It is an important role that not everyone is cut out to serve. Below is a list of five things you should look for when choosing an executor for your Naples estate plan.

1. Trustworthiness

An executor is responsible for administering your estate, which includes handling court filings, collecting assets, paying outstanding debts, and distributing assets to your beneficiaries. You need to choose someone you can rely on to complete these tasks. Your executor must be an individual you can trust to fulfill your final wishes.

2. Objectivity

Your executor should be someone diplomatic, honest, and who can make decisions objectively. These traits are especially critical in blended families. The executor may need to explain the thinking behind your will and gently but firmly reinforce your instructions at an emotionally difficult time. It is important to realize that your executor is a fiduciary meaning an individual or organization that acts in  your best interest and has legal obligations to your estate. As a fiduciary, they must exercise the care, diligence, and skill that a reasonable person would use in handling the deceased’s property. Under Florida law, a fiduciary must act impartially among all the beneficiaries and be transparent in providing information.

If you are highly concerned about potential family conflicts, you should consider appointing a professional, such as an attorney or trust company as executor.

3. Location

You must take into consideration where your executor lives. Under Florida law, your executor must be a Florida resident. In addition to naming someone who lives in-state, it is helpful to have someone who lives reasonably close to you, so it is easy for them to deal with your family and assets.

4. Ability

At a minimum, Florida law requires that your executor is over 18, physically and mentally capable of performing the assigned duties, and not a convicted felon. In addition, you should name someone with common sense and attention to detail. It is helpful if your executor has good, basic business sense and some knowledge of tax, investments, and financial decision-making. It is not necessary for your executor to be a financial professional but that person should know when it is time to involve an expert.

Executor duties can require a substantial amount of time and effort. It is critical to pick someone who can juggle the job with other life responsibilities and meet deadlines.

5. Age and Health

When choosing an executor, you should consider the individual’s age and health and the likelihood they will be around to administer your estate. You may not want to name someone older than you or in poor health.

It is important to name an alternate executor in case your first choice is unavailable either because of disability, death, or distance. In some situations, it is smart to name a professional executor as a final backup.

Should I Choose Co-Executors?

Sometimes parents who want to treat every child equally think about naming co-executors. However, in most cases, it is best to appoint one executor. Having co-executors that must share duties can add complications. Even if there are no conflicts, the process is more cumbersome because both executors need to sign all the documents. It is especially tricky when the co-executors do not live near one another.

Do I Need to Notify My Executor Before I Name Them in My Will?

In Florida, you do not need to notify your executor before naming them in your will. Instead, the executor you have chosen will be given the choice to accept or decline the role after your death. Although it is not required, you probably should ask your chosen executor if they are willing and able to perform. An individual is less likely to decline the responsibility after you pass away if they have discussed the appointment with you in advance.

After the initial discussion, it is wise to confirm that the person is still up for responsibility every time you revisit your estate plan. It is advisable to review your plan every three to five years or whenever you or your chosen executor goes through a major life change.

Call A Naples Estate Planning Lawyer

If you have questions about choosing an executor, you should contact Nici Law Firm. James R. Nici is an experienced Naples attorney with over 25 years of  estate planning experience. He can create an estate plan that fits your needs. Contact our office today at (239) 449-6150 or use our web form to set up a free consultation.

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