Useful information to help guide
your probate process

How Do I Choose My Executor?

Crafting your will is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that your friends and family are provided for and that your estate is protected when you pass away – and naming the right executor is a vital part of the process.

When named and approved by the court, your executor will take on a variety of important responsibilities, including:

  • Distributing assets according to your will
  • Maintaining property
  • Paying bills and taxes for the estate
  • Making court appearances and filing court papers

How will you select the individual or group to take on this load? Here are a few questions to ask as you consider naming your executor…

Can You Trust Them to Make the Right Decisions?

Remember that, in Illinois, your executor can be just about anyone over the age of 18, of sound mind, and free of felony convictions; there are no specific skills or qualifications required. But, having said that, it is of the utmost importance that you choose someone who will be up to the task of handling the many important duties that fall to an executor.

There are plenty of important responsibilities that come along with managing someone’s estate, and it’s important to find a candidate who will rise to the occasion and act suitably on your behalf.

Will your choice be patient, flexible, and thorough? Will they able to meet strict deadlines, tackle extensive paperwork, and stay organized? And, most importantly, will they know when to do their research, when to exercise common sense, and be willing to reach out to an attorney or other qualified professional when they’re in over their head?

Will They Be Present and Able to Act?

Before loading your chosen advocate with all of the burdens and responsibilities of acting as an executor, be sure to consider if they’ll be a viable candidate down the road. What is their age and health status? Are they likely to be around and of sound mind and body when you need them most?

And, finally, will they be close enough to you to handle what needs to be done in person? It could be an additional strain – and create some legal or professional hurdles – to name someone who is out of state as your executor.

You may also want to consider a contingency plan in the event that your first choice is unavailable or unable to act when the time comes. Your options may include naming a successor yourself, allowing your executor to name their own successor, or designating a corporate executor.

Have You Checked In With Them Recently?

Be sure to check in with your potential executor every few years.

For one thing, be sure that they are aware that you plan to name them as your executor, and are still willing to take on the task.

For another, it’s important to remember that your chosen person’s life and individual circumstances may be changing all the time. Divorce, a rise in family tensions, an unexpected change in health status – all of these factors could affect who you want to name as the executor of your estate.

Should You Name Multiple People? Or a Corporate Trustee?

Are you considering naming a team of co-executors? Or naming a corporate executor, such as a bank or financial service firm? Both of these options have their pros and cons.

When it comes to naming multiple individuals, there is, on the one hand, the assurance that no one person has to go it alone. On the other hand, family tensions or conflicts could arise when it comes to distributing your assets – and this could prove costly and time-consuming for all parties involved.

Corporate executors or trustees, similarly, offer the assurance of stability (since your chosen institution is certainly likely to still be around when you need their services) and a certain level of objectivity, as a third-party actor. On the flip side of the coin, these institutions can be a bit impersonal or faceless, and are probably going to prove to be more expensive.

In the end, the most important thing to recognize is that naming your executor is a vital decision – and that you don’t need to go it alone! If you’re looking for assistance with your will or any other aspect of estate planning or administration, Chicago Probate Lawyers is here and ready to help. Similarly, if you’ve been named an executor and are looking for guidance, our team knows all of the ins and outs of the probate process in Illinois. Don’t hesitate to reach out to get the conversation started.

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