An important decision that affects your family and loved ones
How to Choose an Executor for Your Estate
by Gary Foreman
Selecting Beneficiaries for Your Retirement Accounts
Should You DIY Your Own Estate Plan?
Baby Boomer's Financial Timeline
You're writing your will and you need to name someone to take over after you've gone. But, how do you know that the person you name will be a good executor? What should you consider when you choose an executor for your estate?
To help us answer that question, we contacted Florida board certified elder law attorney Laurie E. Ohall. She's licensed in FL and OH with law offices in Brandon, FL.
Q: What exactly is an executor?
Laurie Ohall: Also referred to as a Personal Representative, the Executor is the person named in the Will who is in charge of the estate after a person dies. Their job is to gather up the assets, determine the bills of the estate, and pay them, and to make sure that the beneficiaries get their distributions after everything is completed.
Q: You warn people to be careful in choosing an executor. What are their duties? And why should we be careful?
Laurie Ohall: You want to make sure that the person you choose to be your executor is a responsible person and knows how to handle money because it will be their job to figure out what bills to pay, negotiate with creditors if there is not enough money in the estate, possibly invest funds (or continue the investments), sell real estate, file the final income tax return of the deceased, etc. This person should be fiscally savvy. Also, whomever you appoint cannot have a criminal history where they were convicted of a felony (felons cannot serve in a fiduciary capacity).
Q: Are some personality types better suited to being an executor? And are there some types that you shouldn't choose to be your executor?
Laurie Ohall: Someone who is good at working with others and is a good money manager is best. They also need to be organized. These are all good characteristics. Someone who fights with other family members or who is not fiscally responsible may not be a good fit.
Q: Are there any legal requirements that should be considered in choosing an executor?
Laurie Ohall: They must be 18, mentally and/or physically able to perform their duties, and cannot have been convicted of a felony. Also, if they live out of the state of Florida, then they must be related to you by blood (child, sibling, uncles, aunts, parents, or the spouse of such a person) or be a legally adopted child or parent of the decedent. State laws may vary.
Have you started preparing for retirement?
Our pre-retirement checklist will walk you through the steps you need to take.
Q: What about fees? How much would a corporate executor charge for their services?
Laurie Ohall: Florida law allows a personal representative to receive a commission of 3% of the value of the estate, up to the first $1 million, and then it is a sliding scale after that; however, if the decedent's Will provides for a different type of compensation amount, this will be allowed by the court.
Q: Should family members be paid if they act as executors?
Laurie Ohall: They can be, but they do not have to take compensation. If they choose to be compensated, it is usually the 3% allowed by law.
Scroll to Continue Article
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.
Take the Next Step:
- Use this tool to maximize your retirement by determining the best age to take your Social Security benefits. Don't leave thousands on the table by taking Social Security at the wrong time.
- Determine if debt could derail your retirement and what you can do about it now. Our checklist can help you. Afterall, one of the most important ingredients for a comfortable retirement is to be debt free when you retire.
- Subscribe to After 50 Finances. You've learned how to work smarter, not harder. This weekly newsletter is dedicated to people just like you. Subscribers get a FREE copy of our After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist, a list of everything you need to do to be ready for retirement.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.
Baby Boomer Tools & Resources
- A tool to determine the best time to take Social Security benefits
- Get out of debt before you retire
- Get free answers to financial questions
- Get free answers to legal questions
- Retirement shortfall calculator
- Life expectancy calculator
- IRA required minimum distribution calculator
- More retirement planning calculators
Trending in Baby Boomers
- Investing retirement money that you may never need
- Financial tips when nearing retirement
- Why pay off your mortgage with a reverse mortgage loan?
- 3 ways retirees can tap into their home equity
- 5 steps to an easier senior move
- Tax considerations for those retiring outside the U.S.
- 6 ways boomers can help grandkids pay for college
- This week's Readers' Tips