How to Choose an Executor

End of Life Management Toolkit #2 | by Team Passare and Robert L. Shepard

3. What are Executor Powers

The executor is given legal authority to make certain decisions as well as specific powers that are described in the will.

Power to hire professional help Hiring professional help takes the burden off your executor (especially important if it’s your spouse) and brings expertise to your estate administration. You can state in your will or final instructions letter that your executor is to appoint a competent attorney and other appropriate counselors to manage the settling of your estate. Stating it in your will or final instructions helps to forestall all complaints from relatives or beneficiaries about the costs of a lawyer or accountant.
Power to retain certain kinds of property in the estate State law may order unproductive assets be sold in an estate sale. An example of an unproductive asset could be a family forest preserve or a valuable painting. The executor has the power to retain certain kinds of property in the estate.
Power to continue running your business The executor is able to act as the agent of your business until a new chief executive is chosen, unless you want your business liquidated. In that case, the executor acts as your agent to liquidate your business.
Power to mortgage, lease, buy and sell real estate The executor has the ability to mortgage, lease, buy and sell real estate is often limited by law, unless otherwise specified in the will. If you anticipate this need, you must make provisions for it in your End of Life documents.
Power to borrow money The executor is usually empowered to borrow money from a bank or a lending institution to pay estate debts. The estate is responsible to repay the borrowed money.
Power to take advantage of tax savings The executor can save money for the estate by exercising various options permissible in tax law, such as filing a joint tax return with your surviving spouse.
Now, take a few minutes to answer these questions. It will help you figure out how to choose an executor. 
  1. Do I want my executor to hire professional help? If not, why not?
  2. Do I own property that my executor will need to protect from state laws?
  3. Will my executor likely need to mortgage, lease, buy and sell property? If so, have I specified this power in my will or trust?
  4. Are there any powers I want to make sure my executor has or does not have? What are they?
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