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Should Uncle Bob be the executor of your estate?

If the time has come for you to consider naming an executor for your estate, the mere thought of it may be keeping you up at night. You hesitate to put such a burden on your spouse, and your only child lives on the opposite side of the country and is busy with a family of her own. That only leaves one other close family member, Uncle Bob - but is he the right choice?

The duties of an executor

The responsibilities an executor faces could be relatively easy or extremely complex, depending on the size of your estate. Basic duties include filing papers with the court to start the probate process, which determines the validity of your will; taking inventory of the contents of your estate; and using the funds to pay funeral costs, bills and taxes. Your executor will also notify the appropriate agencies and companies about your death, terminate your credit cards and take care of filing your income tax returns. The final responsibility would be to distribute assets to the beneficiaries you named in your will.

The qualities an executor should have

What may be keeping you up at night is that Uncle Bob has never been a particularly astute businessman. He is a researcher; he spends his time in a lab, after all. However, he is calm under pressure, he is admired by many for his common-sense approach to problems and he knows how to keep to a budget. You could do worse, but there is still something nagging at you about Uncle Bob.

Choosing an alternate

While you are considering who to name as your executor, you should also think about a successor, someone who can take over if your first choice is, for some reason, unable to serve. If you prefer, you can also ask the executor you appoint to name a successor; you can always approve or disapprove the choice.

The final decision

One of the qualities you want in your executor is someone who is conservative in terms of managing money. Your Uncle Bob fits this description, and in most respects, you feel he would be a good choice. However, the biggest problem with Uncle Bob as executor has finally occurred to you: This man is 12 years older than you are and may well pass away before you do, so you must cross him off your list. Now who should you choose? The best option may be to select a third party. Stay proactive. Lower your stress level and get good advice by reaching out to an attorney experienced with estate planning matters.

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