The four qualities to look for in a potential executor

This article looks at the four most important qualities to look for in a potential estate executor.

While being chosen as the executor of an estate can feel like a high honour, as the Globe and Mail points out, many people placed in such a position soon find out that the task is well beyond their abilities. Being an executor is a taxing job that not just anybody can perform properly. Even a well-intentioned executor can cause problems for beneficiaries if he or she mishandles the estate or is slow to carry out his or her duties. With such risks in mind, it's a good idea to ensure that any potential executor meets the following four requirements.

1. Trustworthiness

As MoneySense points out, an estate administration lawyer can help an executor with his or her legal duties and obligations. However, a lawyer cannot make an executor honest or trustworthy. Without a doubt, trustworthiness is the most important quality that an executor should possess, which is why most people tend to choose close family members when choosing an executor.

2. Time

Being an executor consumes a lot of time, which is why an executor needs to be somebody who has the time necessary to ensure that all estate administration issues, such as locating assets, paying creditors, and reporting to heirs, are taken care of. People who don't have much time on their hands are not likely to make great executors, no matter how trustworthy or well-intentioned they may be.

3. Location

An ideal executor will live in the same geographic area as the deceased. There are instances where any executor will have to take a more proactive role in ensuring the estate is properly administered. For example, the executor may need to gather keys to the deceased's house or other assets that may be in the hands of various friends and relatives. Obviously, this is much easier to do if the executor lives nearby rather than in a different province or country.

4. Willingness

Finally, no matter how good an executor may look on paper, he or she will only make a good executor if he or she is willing to take on the job. Anybody who has been chosen as an executor (or alternate executor) should be informed of the decision beforehand. As with much else in estate planning, surprises are something that should be avoided when choosing an executor.

Being the executor of an estate is a major responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly. Anybody who has been named as an executor should contact an estate administration lawyer today. An experienced lawyer can help executors with various estate administration services, such as securing assets, paying debts, and locating heirs.