Who is an executor and how do I choose one?

blog image

An executor is a person who is nominated by the testator of the will to carry out the instructions of the will. A will is a legal document through which a person decides the manner in which his property will be disposed of after his death. However, if the person dies without making a will, then he is said to have died intestate. If a person dies intestate then his property devolves to his family members in accordance with the Law of Succession.

Practically, you can choose anyone as your executor, provided he is above 18 years of age. As a result, most of the people choose either their spouse or children as executors. You must choose your executor wisely, as the executor has to perform certain important duties with respect to the will.

Some of the duties performed by the executors are -

1. Filing the court papers which is required by the law to determine the validity of the will.

2. Notifying the bank, government, post office and other departments about the death of the person of whom he is executing the will.

3. Decide when to sell the property of the deceased to distribute the proceeds to the people specified in the will.

4. Distribute the deceased’s estate among the beneficiaries.

5. Payment of Inheritance Tax, capital gain tax, and filing income tax returns.

6. Handling other important matters like disabling the deceased’s credit card and payment of all his dues in the manner specified in the will.

Picking the right executor can help ensure the prompt, accurate distribution of your possessions with a minimum of family friction. Hence, you should keep the following things in mind while choosing your executor -

1. Number of executors - A total number of four executors can be appointed. However, these executors must act jointly. Hence, it is generally advisable to not appoint more than two executors, in case one dies before you do or in case you want to have one law professional and one family member as your executors.

2. Qualities that the executor must possess - The key qualities that your executor must possess are- honesty, good communication skills and someone on whom you can trust. It is not important that you appoint a law professional as the executor. However, if your executor is good at paperwork and managing legal issues, then it can prove to be quite helpful. Hence, in such a case, you can choose two executors- one, any of your family members and another a- professional for eg an attorney or tax accountant to help you in tax and legal matters.

3. Get approval of your executor - You should always seek approval of the person, you choose to be your executor. Once you have received the approval, you must share your financial and other details that might prove to be important to your executor.

4. Fees of the executor - If you choose your family members to be the executor of your will, then they might not charge any fee. However, if you opt a third party executor, then he will charge a portion of your estate as his fees. Fees of an executor is determined by the state government, which varies from 1-5% of the estate.

5. Location - Another basic consideration is the executor's location. Things such as court appearances, checking mail and property maintenance can be considerably more difficult if the executor does not live near where the majority of your assets are located. Hence, an executor of a location.

If you are not able to decide on whom to appoint as an executor, then as a last resort a government official- Public Trustee will act as your executor. You can also consult a lawyer for the same.