If you are giving thought to preparing your will, you must decide who you want to name as your executor. Settling someone’s final affairs can be complicated; there could be financial and legal pitfalls along the way. You need a savvy executor who knows when to ask a professional for help.

Younger is better

You might name as your executor a favorite uncle who is a retired banking executive. This sounds like a good idea; Uncle Roger is a sensible man, has good business sense and would undoubtedly consult with your attorney if there were any legal concerns in winding up your estate. The only trouble is that your uncle will soon have his 80 birthday and you will likely outlive him. Let Uncle Ned enjoy his retirement and choose someone who will probably be around after you pass on.

Handling details

An executor must deal with considerable paperwork and numerous details. He or she will be legally responsible for protecting and settling your estate, which would include the payment of bills, resolving any debts that exist and filing your final tax returns. The responsibilities will extend to protecting your assets until such time as they can be distributed to beneficiaries according to your wishes. An executor who is detail-oriented and who possesses common sense along with good business sense would be a great choice.

Asking for assistance

No one says that the person you choose has to carry out the duties of an executor alone. Think about potential candidates from among your family and friends and choose someone who is not only trustworthy, but who will not be timid about asking for help when necessary. Professional resources might include, among others, your accountant, your attorney, a real estate appraiser or a financial advisor.

Avoid a court appointee

The bottom line is, be sure to name an executor in your will—someone you can trust, someone with good judgment, someone who would know when to ask for help. If you fail to do so, the court will appoint the executor, and it might be the last person you would have chosen.