Choose Your Executor Wisely

Have you ever been an executor?  If yes, how did that go?  If no, would you know where to start?

It seems that many people find enlisting amateurs is acceptable.  That could work, but it has uneven outcomes.  The problems usually begin upstream from where the executor enters.  Penny Schneider, “The Estate Organizer” publishes a blog every other week.  The early November one is, “Five Things Your Executor Wishes You Had Mentioned.”  None are complicated, all are important.

  1. That you named him as your executor (or co-executor)
  2. The location of your Will
  3. Where to find other important documents (and your passwords)
  4. That there were things you wanted that were not in your Will
  5. That you had sold or given away items that were in your Will

The executors task is difficult, fussy and sometimes risky.  It is your task to be sure they will have a reasonable chance at doing it well.  Penny’s list will give you some insight into what can go wrong.

Your organizing principle is that the executor will be you when it comes to decisions.  How would you address the conflicts, the oversights, the cash shortfall?  The executor should ask you and you should think it through too.  A will where the executor has little feel for the deceased is error prone.  Costly too.

Your optimal move is to work with your professional advisors and executors and rehearse your will.  They will gain the benefit of your insight into various problems that arise and you will still have time to remedy some of them.

I have heard people argue that the process will be difficult and create conflict.  It is not especially difficult or expensive and it does not create conflicts.  It discovers conflicts, it does not create them.  Those are far better found early.  

A will should provide clear instructions. The testator should have anticipated and neutralized obvious conflicts and inequality. The executor should have both the knowledge and appropriate resources to execute the instructions.  That is not a high standard for success. 

Death is the end game and a responsible approach will protect the work of a lifetime.  It is not an urgent problem as we all think we will live forever, but history says it does matter and it could matter soon.  Take a little care now.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

One Comment on “Choose Your Executor Wisely

  1. Don – thank you for fleshing out my list with some important information – particularly “It discovers conflicts, it does not create them.” This is an excellent note that most don’t consider.

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