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Gauge skills when choosing an executor

As estate executor plays a huge role in the estate administration process after someone passes away. It's their job to do things like distributing copies of the will, paying the taxes and collecting and dividing the assets according to the testator's instructions. Essentially, while the will states what a person wants to happen with their estate, the executor is the individual who makes sure that it actually occurs.

The key when planning this is to pick a person who has all of the skills and abilities to do a competent job, as it can get very complicated. If someone cannot even file their own taxes, how are they going to pay taxes on someone else's estate? If they're too disorganized to keep track of what they own, how will they gather and distribute someone else's assets?

A lot of the time, people just tend to pick their adult children, perhaps settling on the firstborn or the child who still lives closest to home. And that can work, if the person in question also has the skills and abilities needed. If not, it can be a disaster.

Another potential problem is that choosing someone who will gain from the estate plan to be the executor can lead the other beneficiaries to claim that person is cheating them out of their inheritance. If you leave more money to a firstborn, for instance, and you also let them pass out the assets, are the other children going to support their efforts? Or will they think the executor is skimming money off of the top?

As you can see, choosing the right person is critical, and it vastly impacts the estate administration process.

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