Having a solid estate plan can ease the way for your heirs once you’re gone — but only if you choose the right executor for your estate. A bad choice could lead to unnecessary delays, unexpected tax consequences and possibly even lawsuits among your heirs.

Who do most people choose to be their executor?

For the most part, people tend to pick the people closest to them, such as their parents, adult children, siblings or best friends. Unfortunately, that’s not really the best way to pick your executor.

Who should you pick to be your executor?

Since the executor is responsible for everything from gathering and securing your most valuable belongings to managing the taxes for the estate, it’s wise to be practical (not emotional) about your choices. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who has the resources to handle the job? You want to pick someone who either has a strong grasp of financial issues or is savvy enough to hire professional assistance.
  • Who has the time to be your executor? Your executor could be dealing with estate-related issues for two years or longer after your death, especially with a complex estate. Therefore, you want someone who understands and accepts the time commitment.
  • Who has the emotional wherewithal for the job? Some of your family members may not be pleased with the way that your estate is laid out — and they may push an executor to give in to their demands. You need someone who can hold their ground and adhere to your wishes.
  • Who will your family accept? You don’t want to name your brother your executor, for example, if your two adult children can’t stand him.

Choosing your executor with care makes it easier to settle your final affairs and allow your loved ones to find closure after you are gone. If you’re uncertain about who to choose, your estate planning attorney can offer some guidance to help you make your decision.