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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, November 18, 2019

Estate-Planning for the Elderly: Choosing an Executor

Estate planning for the elderly involves many decisions. One important decision elderly individuals make when developing an estate plan is the choice of an executor for their estate. An executor has the task of administering a person’s estate. Choosing the right individual for this task is essential to reduce family conflict and ensure that the person’s final wishes are carried out. Our California estate-planning attorney offers five tips for elderly individuals who are contemplating the choice of an executor for their estate.

Tips for Seniors Choosing an Executor or Personal Representative

Executors are also referred to as personal representatives. The person you choose will oversee your estate, including securing your property, paying final bills, and distributing your property to your heirs. Five tips that can help you choose the right person for the job are:

1. Choose someone who can handle family squabbles.

Even though your will is clear about your final wishes for your estate, some family members may argue about some of the details. Choose a person to serve as executor who is level-headed and calm when dealing with conflicts. An easy-going but firm personality can help settle family squabbles before they become costly and time-consuming litigated matters.

2. Choose a person who has a basic understanding of financial matters.

Your executor must secure your property and manage your property until it is distributed to your heirs. An executor is also required to prepare tax returns, accountings, and inventories. He or she may need to sell real estate and other assets. While an executor may retain a probate attorney to assist with the estate, it helps to choose an individual for your executor who has experience and is comfortable handling financial matters.

3. Choose a competent alternate executor.

In addition to choosing an executor, you also want to choose an alternate executor who has the same qualities and experience. If your first choice of an executor is unable to serve for any reason, you want a reliable backup ready to serve to avoid allowing the court to choose an alternate executor for you.

4. Choose a local person to serve as executor.

An individual does not need to live in your area to serve as the personal representative for your estate. However, there are many advantages to choosing a local person as your executor. For example, a local person does not need to arrange for time away from work and family to secure your assets or keep appointments with the probate court. 

A local individual can perform estate duties during lunch hours or free time while continuing to work and take care of a family. Choosing a local individual to serve as your executor also means that individual is on hand to deal with family members who might want to take property or make decisions that are not consistent with the terms of your will. The bottom line is that it is more convenient, cost-effective, and efficient to have someone local handle your estate.

5.  Talk to the person before naming him or her as your executor.

Before naming someone in your will as an executor or personal representative, you need to ensure that the person is willing to serve in this role after your death. After you obtain a person’s consent to serve as your executor, you also want to discuss with that person your wishes and desires for your estate. Explaining your reasons for certain decisions can help an executor carry out his or her duties after your death. Understanding your desires and wishes can also help your executor as he or she deals with family squabbles or questions after your death.

Contact a California Estate Planning Attorney for More Information

Everyone needs a comprehensive estate plan to protect themselves, their property, and their family members. A California estate-planning attorney can help seniors identify estate planning goals and devise a plan that meets those goals. Contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Horizon Law today to discuss your estate planning needs.

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