How to Select an Executor of Your Will


THE EXECUTOR~Poem by Edgar A. Guest

I had a friend who died and he,
On earth so loved and trusted me,
That ere he quit this earthly shore,
He made me his executor.
He tasked me through my natural life,
To guard the interests of his wife,
To see that everything was done,
Both for his daughter and his son.
I have his money to invest,
And though I try my level best,
To do what wisely, I’m advised,
My judgment oft is criticized.

His widow once so calm and meek,
Comes, hot with rage, three times a week,
And rails at me, because I must,
To keep my oath appear unjust.
His children hate the sight of me,
Although their friend I’ve tried to be,
And every relative declares,
I interfere with his affairs.
Now when I die I’ll never ask,
A friend to carry such a task,
I’ll spare him all such anguish sore,
And leave a hired executor.~by Edgar A. Guest

Once people really learn about the demands involved with settling an estate, the more they realize why it may be so unfair to place this responsibility single-handedly on the shoulders of a spouse, adult child, relative or an old friend. Here are just a few of the duties of an executor:

• Collect and safeguard estate assets
• Inventory all assets and obtain valuations
• Pay valid debts and collect money owed
• File all final federal and state tax returns
• Pay all of the personal, estate & inheritance taxes due
• Maintain detailed accounting records
• Prepare a complete accounting and file it with the court if required
• Carry out all of the terms of the last will in an unbiased manner

Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult enough without placing the additional burden of having to do all that is necessary to settle the estate. Additionally how many of us have the acumen to do all that is necessary to settle the estate as executor?  Maybe a better choice is to select a corporate fiduciary as a co-executor with the spouse, adult child, relative or old friend because of his or her knowledge of the deceased as well as the beneficiaries of the estate.

When it comes to estate settlement a corporate executor provides “one stop shopping”.

• Administering an estate can be difficult. The executor must follow the laws of the state where the deceased was domiciled. Also, federal and state tax returns come into play and need to be completed and filed in a timely manner.
• The executor is usually presented with a variety of assets, from real estate, stocks and bonds, life insurance and to sometimes a family business. A corporate executor through years of experience has the expertise to manage these assets or in the case of a family business has the network available to help.
• . As in the Poem, the executor must be totally unbiased in decision making and providing requested information. This is probably the most difficult area for an individual executor to navigate through.
• An executor should only be focused on administering the estate and should be available when a beneficiary has a question. An individual executor may have a job and family that requires his or her full attention. Working with a corporate executor in a co-capacity allows the individual executor to attend to job or family needs while the corporate executor is administering to the estate.  When decisions are required the individual executor is no more than a phone call away.
• When you name an individual executor there is no guarantee that they will be alive or have their mental faculties when called upon. A corporate executor will always be available when called upon.
• A corporate executor does not have to be bonded as they carry sufficient fiduciary insurance to protect the beneficiaries. An individual executor usually has to Bonded.

I can go on and on but you get the gist of this article, naming an individual is more often a burden than a benefit. A corporate fiduciary offers a commonsense alternative for the settlement of an estate.

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About Ira Brower

I have been in the financial service industry for more than 40 years primarily providing wealth management solutions for retired and soon-to-be retired individuals. I am President and Founder of Garden State Trust Company. Our clients depend on us for elder care solutions, such as; trust and estate planning, investment services, and lifestyle management. We also administer to “special needs” or “supplemental needs” trusts.

One thought on “How to Select an Executor of Your Will

  1. tcolling

    Hey Ira, thank you for that very informative article. I enjoyed it! I have seen several instances in which a family member unknowingly burdened a relative with much more work than was anticipated, by naming the as the executor of their estate.

    How would you feel about this assertion: “When choosing a Trustee, consider choosing one who either is also a professional geriatric care manager (a social worker or a nurse) or one who is affiliated with, or associated with, a professional geriatric care manager.”

    I ask because I have seen several instances in which professional trustees here in the area where I work, most of whom are licensed professional fiduciaries, sometimes make decisions that are detrimental to the quality of life of the beneficiary of the trust, for lack of understanding of the psychosocial aspects of working with the elderly.

    Thanks! I look forward to hearing your opinion about this.


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