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When you make a Will, you will select at least one person to serve as your Executor. Your Executor is the person who is charged with gathering all of the assets that belonged to you during your life that you have identified in the Will. This process is known as an Estate Administration. The entirety of your property is known as your "estate" when you pass away. The Court imposes fiduciary responsibility on the Executor. This means that if any assets are lost or damaged during the Estate Administration, the Executor will be held responsible for the financial loss.
When picking your Executor you will want to selecting someone who is financially responsible. This can reduce risk for your estate. If the assets are not cared for, the beneficiaries under your Will may face costly legal problems.
Your Will will be probated (filed in the Courthouse) in the County in which you lived at the time of your death. The probate process involves the Executor filing several required forms in the Courthouse, reviewing bank accounts, paying final bills and some other tasks. An individual who lives locally typically handles these responsibilities far more easily than someone who lives distantly. Geographic location can be critically important when selecting an Executor, as choosing someone who lives states away may place a burden on looking after your Estate.
You do not have to have a family member be your Executor. Many people often do choose family members, but you are not required to do so. If you have a close friend, or a trusted professional such as a CPA, you can select those individuals to be Executors as well. CPA's are often familiar with Estate Administrations, and may already have great working knowledge of your assets.
You also need to select a person who is very punctual. Late filings with the Courthouse may incur further costs and filing fees. Any dragging of the feet can delay when the beneficiaries under your Will can receive what you have left to them.
You can change Executors after you have made your Will. If you have already made your Will, and want to change anything, including the Executor, you can make what is called a Codicil. The Codicil only makes small changes to your Will, while leaving the rest of the Will unchanged. So if your Executor moves away, appears to be too busy, or any other reason, you can choose a new Executor.
If you have any questions about Executors, you should talk to an attorney familiar with Wills and Estate Administration to be sure you are fully aware of the responsibilities bestowed on an Executor.