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Ask an attorney for advice on appointing an Executor for your will

It is inevitable that some or other time we all have to depart from the living. The mere mention of death and contacting an attorney to help with preparation of a current will, will always be an uncomfortable subject. But, fact is fact and we do not want those we love who are left behind, to be left to pick up the pieces of our lives if we did not have our affairs in order.

Once you have decided to be mature about the subject, you will have quite a lot to think about. It also depends on what assets you have to mention in your will. Once you know what you want to bequeath and to whom, you will most certainly need someone to execute this, as you will no longer be alive to manage it. Now, this is where the question comes to mind when you sit with your attorney: “Who should I appoint as the Executor of my will?”

You can nominate any of the following as your Executor:

  • Your spouse
  • A family member or friend
  • An attorney or a firm of attorneys
  • An accountant or a firm of accountants
  • A bank
  • A trust company

The first people that comes to mind will be your spouse, your child, your best friend or another family member.

Do you really want to appoint someone that you care for? Once you understand what the role of an Executor is, you might want to re-think appointing anyone close to you. Incorrect financial decisions and family conflict might be the end result of a family torn apart. They might even end up cursing you in your grave.

So before you appoint someone to the role of Executor in your will, you should at least be aware of what is involved.

The best decision you have made to seek the help and advice from an attorney. Their professional input could help you make the correct decisions in appointing the correct Executor for your will.

The Executor appointed by you, needs to step into your shoes when you’ve departed. This person has to wrap up all your affairs and distribute your assets according to your will. Obviously you would like the Executor to execute this as fast as possible and with the least amount of stress for your family.

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The duties of an Executor is to:

  • Protect and control the assets in your estate
  • Identify beneficiaries and eventually distribute the assets to them
  • Draw up accounts that of all assets, claims against the estate and how any surplus, if any, will be distributed
  • Make sure all your outstanding debts are paid
  • File a final tax return

If you do decide to nominate a relative, spouse or friend as your Executor, it is advisable to nominate at least one alternative Executor. This is in case your nominee is unable or unwilling to do the task when the time comes. The Executor/s of your choice will be nominated by your attorney in writing in your will.

Keep in mind that if you ignore the important task and don't appoint an Executor, the court will pick one for you. 

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Legal advisor as Executor

In most cases it may be advisable to name your legal advisor as the executor of an estate. Attorneys have experience administering estates. Their employees stay current on developments in tax law and estate law. An attorney acts impartially, unaffected by the behaviour of beneficiaries and family members, who may try to influence the Executor.

In closure, make sure that the appointed Executor, your spouse, your lawyer and at least one other family member has a copy of your current will.