An executor is the person you appoint to carry out the instructions of your Will. The biggest mistake people make regarding their Will (besides not having one at all!), is not choosing the right person to be their executor. Often the executor is chosen based on a close relationship such as a family member, and not on the attributes of the person. However, an executor could also be a trusted friend, a business partner, a professional (e.g. your lawyer), or even an institution, such as a trust company.
Ideally, you want to choose someone who is likely to outlive you, and who lives in your city or town, so that administrative duties don’t require that person to make multiple or long journeys. Also, this is a diplomatic and very detail-oriented job; dealing with lawyers, accountants, and emotional family members. Depending on your family’s dynamics, you may be able to count on a specific family member, or you may see advantages in asking someone outside the immediate family to take the role. For this part time job of up to 1 to 2 years or more, an executor can be paid a fee, which can be stipulated in the Will. Or alternatively, the executor can claim up to 5% of the estate value with permission of the beneficiaries.
When considering who is the best fit to be your executor, ensure you understand the duties and tasks involved. Start by reading Jim Yih’s article from his Retire Happy Blog. It has a great Executor’s Checklist, and you’ll quickly see it’s not a job suitable for everyone!