2. Who should I name as my Executor?
Your Executor or Executrix as the person is called if a female, is the person who makes sure that your Will and Estate is probated properly so that your wishes as stated in your Will are followed through with as you would have desired.
Initially, the Executor is responsible to collect and protect the assets of your estate and to create an Inventory of the Assets to be filed with the Probate Court. He or she is also responsible for making sure that valid claims of the Estate are paid or, in some cases, resisting the request for payment of an invalid claim. The Executor is also responsible for making sure that any Estate Tax Return is properly and timely filed and that any taxes due from the Estate are paid.
The Executor may also represent an Estate in claims against others for example, in a wrongful death claim or any other cause of action that the Estate may have against a third party who is liable or responsible to the Estate.
The Executor is also responsible to make sure that the remaining assets of the Estate after any taxes, Probate Court charges and Administrative fees are paid, are distributed to the Beneficiaries under your Will. This may require an Executor to have to sell Estate assets such as a car, stock, personal property such as jewelry to have enough cash to pay all the creditors and to distribute to the beneficiaries in accordance with your desires. A Will may also impose other duties upon an Executor such as evenly distributing personal effects, investing funds and in some cases even running an ongoing business.
If it is desired, you can choose more than one individual to perform the duties of an Executor but they should be persons who get along very well or it may cause more problems than you might think if they don't work together. You can also name a substitute if for some reason the person you appoint does not or cannot perform the duties.
In my forty plus years of experience handling Estates, I have found that the good executors have three basic traits in common that you may want to consider. First, they should be someone who is financially responsible and what I mean by this is someone who works well with keeping and dealing with financial records or accounts. Secondly, you should consider the stability and maturity of the person you are considering appointing and lastly someone who is trustworthy. In light of the fact an Executor can hire experts such as Lawyers and Accountants to assist him or her and, if their charges are found to be in order and reasonable the Probate Court can approve an Executor's payment of their services out of Estate assets, I believe that the most important trait of the person you choose is their trustworthiness. In other words, I believe that character is everything when considering who to choose to perform this very important task for you.