An executor is a person who has the legal responsibility to take care of any financial obligations you owe following your death. You want to ensure someone handles your outstanding bills and divides your assets according to your wishes, and choosing the right executor is crucial to protecting your best interests. While you can choose almost anyone to be an executor, there are careful considerations you need to take.
Who Can Be an Executor of a Will?
You can choose anyone with the capacity to understand the terms of your will to be your executor. Since most wills are simple and easy to understand, almost anyone can be an executor. Some of the most common choices include a spouse, child, or sibling. You can also hire a professional executor.
The following individuals, however, cannot become an executor in Texas.
- Children under the age of 18
- People with a felony conviction
Generally, you want to appoint someone who lives in the state of Texas to be your executor. If you appoint an out-of-state executor, he or she will need to identify an in-state agent who can accept legal papers on behalf of the estate.
Wills that involve complex asset division or larger than normal financial responsibilities may require the guidance of a professional. In these situations, your executor may want to hire a lawyer to assist him or her with the estate’s affairs.
You do have the right to name a corporation as an executor, as long as it can act as a fiduciary in the state of Texas. However, it is almost always in your best interest to hire a trusted individual to handle your final affairs. Speak to an attorney before naming a corporation as your executor.
Qualities to Look for in an Executor
Whether you choose to hire a professional executor or choose a close family member to carry out your will, there are certain qualities that you want to look for before making a decision. You entrust your executor with important financial decisions and responsibilities, and without key traits, carrying out a will can become a messy process.
Before you name an executor, assess him or her against the following criteria.
- Honesty: You trust your executor with your finances, your estate, and your final wishes. You should choose someone you trust would respect your will following your death.
- Strong communication skills: You will need your executor to contact certain people, pay bills, and make court appearances on your behalf. Strong communications skills are necessary for these tasks.
- Organization: Your executor will need to handle a number of important tasks, and a well-organized person is more likely to balance these responsibilities effectively.
- Proximity: Your executor will need to attend court, check the mail, maintain your property, and engage in other location-specific activities. You may want to choose someone who lives near you.
- Family dynamics: You do not want any family issues to prevent your will’s execution. Choose an executor who is least likely to spark arguments or ill will, and who can keep the peace.
- Self-interest: A person who stands to inherit a portion of the will may execute its terms more efficiently than someone who won’t gain anything from the will.
Get Legal Help with Estate Planning
Protecting your estate is a top priority, and after your passing, you will need to detail important instructions to ensure you protect you and your family’s best interests. Hiring an attorney to assist with your estate planning can help you create a will that is straightforward and comprehensive. Speak to a Texas estate planning attorney to discuss the terms of your will and begin your estate plan.