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What should I look for in an executor?

Your will provides instructions on how your estate should be handled after you're gone. You'll also need to choose an executor, who is a person responsible for handling many important duties, including dispersing assets to your heirs. Kiplinger offers the following tips to help you pick an executor who will protect your estate and ensure your family members are taken care of when the time comes. 

While specifics vary from court to court, in many instances an executor must be bonded in order to fulfill his or her duties. Bonding is insurance that protects heirs in the event the executor takes an estate's assets for personal gain. A poor financial history, such as bankruptcy or bad credit score, prevents a person from being bonded. A poor financial history also means that your selection won't be fiscally responsible with your assets, which can also pose issues. 

The person must also be responsible in general. Probate involves many different duties, some of which can be arduous. Along with practical matters, your executor will need to deal with heirs, who may be unsatisfied with their share of the assets received. Probate can also last many years, especially if you have a complicated estate. The person you choose must be willing to put the time and effort in, no matter what that entails. He or she must also be available to act when the time comes. 

That's why many estate planning attorneys recommend choosing a back-up executor who is younger than your first selection. It's imperative that your executor is able to act on your behalf, and when you pick someone close to your age you run the risk of that person not being around when you die. A back-up ensures the duties of your will can be carried out to your satisfaction and prevents the state from naming someone for you. 

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