If your friend, sibling or parent informs you that they want to name you as the executor in their will, you might feel honored and slightly overwhelmed. Being an executor is a big job, and it comes with a lot of responsibilities and sometimes a huge time commitment as well. Luckily, there are a few things you can do now – while the testator is alive – that will make your job much easier when the day comes that you must perform your executor duties.
Have an open conversation with the testator
While the executor is the person who carries out the terms of a will, the testator is the person who created the will. They’ve thought long and hard about how they want to distribute their assets and how they want you to handle their funeral before they drafted their estate plan.
You don’t want any surprises when the testator passes away. Even having a general idea of what will be expected of you can go a long way in helping you to prepare. Having an open discussion with the testator – and even reading their will, if they’ll allow it – will allow you to ask them any questions and clarify any ambiguity while you still can.
Help the testator to stay organized
Make sure you know exactly where all of the testator’s estate planning documents are located. It will save you a lot of time and grief if you don’t have to hunt for them.
Also make sure that you have the contact information of their attorney in case you need help sorting out the testator’s documents or assets.
Finally, if you can, try to encourage the testator to update their will regularly while they are alive. Help them to ensure that their estate plan is as thorough as possible and includes all of their assets and debts – including things that people sometimes overlook, such as investments. This will help you greatly, because you’ll be responsible for paying the testator’s debts out of their estate as well as distributing their assets.
Carrying out the duties of executor can be quite stressful, especially while you are in the process of mourning the loss of your loved one. With the right preparation and forethought, you can help to make the process as painless as possible.