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How to choose the right executor for your estate plan

Contemplating death may be such a cause of stress that many people tend to overlook the importance of estate planning. Nevertheless, everyone needs not only to set up an estate plan, but also to have it reviewed regularly and revised as necessary.

In Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, people have their choice of several estate planning tools and should enlist the help of an estate planner, especially when drafting wills and assigning trustees and executors. Choosing an executor or a personal representative can be a special challenge. Although people may be honored to be executors, acting as a personal representative can be a demanding duty.

First, an executor must have the time to manage the estate. Although the amount of time needed varies according to the size of the estate, the duties may require an executor's full attention and most of his or her time for a relatively lengthy period of time. Also, because fiduciary responsibility makes an executor accountable to the heirs, the testator should find a person with management skills. In addition, the executor should have a knowledge of income and expenses, inventory and decision making.

Perhaps most importantly, the testator must trust the executor with the details and information about the estate-the types of properties owned, their locations, businesses owned or managed, and liabilities. The executor should also have thebe abilityle to take control if a family conflict arises over the distribution of the estate.

The executor has the fiduciary responsibility to do everything according to the wishes of the deceased and has no power to alter the will or the distribution. At the same time, an executor acts as a fiduciary serving the best interests of the heirs. The heirs sometimes target the personal representative, holding him or her accountable for what they feel is mismanagement. To ensure that the distribution of your property after death goes smoothly, an executor must be prepared to deal with all of these issuesconsider consulting an estate planner.

Source: Weekender, "Serving as Executor Is No Easy Task," Pamela Yip, June 2, 2013

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