How to be a good executor of a will

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2023 | Estate Planning

Being an executor of a will is often a double-edged sword – a huge honor to carry out someone else’s dying wishes, but often an exhausting endeavor.

In Colorado, anyone at least 21 and of sound mind can be someone’s executor. However, if a specific qualification raises doubts, the court can come into the picture to find a personal representative more suited for the role.

Since circumstances vary depending on the estate and family dynamics, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to performing executor duties. However, learning best practices can help appointed individuals prepare and deliver optimal results.

What it takes to be a good executor

Being good at anything requires knowing what the job entails. Thus, the first crucial step to being a good executor is having the difficult yet necessary conversation with the testator or the person making the will.

The executor must have a clear and complete understanding of the testator’s decisions. Proper context can help prevent future disputes among surviving loved ones. Once the executor has all the essential information, they can start doing the work.

  • Devise organization systems: The paperwork can pile up quickly. Being meticulous with the inventory of bank accounts, real estate and other commodities can increase efficiency. For example, using spreadsheets to store records can lead to faster access when family members, creditors or heirs request specific information.
  • Manage expectations: Interested parties would want progress updates. After all, they stand to gain when everything’s settled. However, timelines differ and often take longer than expected. Thus, keeping them in the loop is critical.
  • Carefully distribute assets, and pay debts and taxes: Before dispensing anything, checking every item on the list is imperative to ensure that nothing’s overlooked. Doing so can deter incorrect allocation or giving something to someone who should not have it.

The bottom line is that a good executor knows where their loyalty lies or who they work for. Their fiduciary duty to act in the testator’s best interests can be their compass in accomplishing tasks.

Why being a good executor matters

The testator entrusts the executor with their final estate wishes before passing on. As much as that sounds heavy, it is also an incredible opportunity to be part of someone’s legacy. As issues can be daunting, an executor can speak with a legal counsel for professional guidance to help them fulfill their challenging yet rewarding role.