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The qualities of a good estate executor

If your parents or other loved ones died without an estate plan, you may remember the frustration and confusion you went through. Perhaps the court appointed a personal representative, and that person did not handle matters the way you know your parents would have wished. You may be determined this will not happen to your family.

You may have many wonderful people in your life, so it will be easy for you to find someone you trust to be the executor of your estate. As you go through the steps of estate planning, finding someone trustworthy may be the easy part. However, trust is only one quality that makes a good executor. You may wish to consider other factors before you make your choice.

The wrong choice

Your pool of choices may include siblings, friends and your children. Using the following guidelines suggested by estate planning experts, you may be able to narrow down your choices to find someone who is willing and able to take on the serious and often challenging responsibilities of handling your estate while it goes through probate. The first people you can eliminate from consideration are those who are not qualified for the job, for example:

  • Those who may be ineligible for court-required bonding, such as anyone who has too much debt, has filed for bankruptcy or has no credit history
  • Those who have felony convictions
  • Those who are not U.S. citizens
  • Those who are minors or who are otherwise not mature enough to handle the responsibilities

You will probably want to exclude anyone who is prone to drama or likely to stir up negative emotions among your heirs. For example, if there is bad blood between two of your heirs, choosing one of those people to be your executor may be asking for trouble. Your estate could end up the driving force for an all-out battle, leaving your loved ones with probate litigation to eat up their inheritances.

The right choice

The best qualified person is usually someone who is organized and patient. If you know someone who will be able to take the time from his or her schedule to manage the affairs of your estate and who will be capable of being firm with heirs who try to manipulate the estate for their benefit, you may consider this person for the job. Someone chosen for this job must understand his or her responsibilities and the potential liability if mistakes occur.

Many people find that the heavy burden carried by the executors of their estates is something they do not want to leave for anyone they love. To this end, the assistance of an experienced California attorney can help assure that your affairs will be managed in a professional manner, relieving your heirs of the responsibilities.

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