Who Should I Pick As My Personal Representative/Executor?

The most important traits for the people you select to handle your affairs are trust, capability and willingness to do the job.

In a (reasonably) happy marriage or domestic partnership, that would, first, be your spouse/significant other. But what happens if you die at the same time, you are single or you just want someone else?

Trust

This is critical. Whoever you ask to serve as an executor of your estate, trustee of your trust, guardian of your kids or your power of attorney must be trustworthy. The law imposes an obligation of responsibility on the person you choose.

Capability

Don't use someone who doesn't have a basic financial understanding of pluses and minuses. Yes, he or she will be able to hire lawyers and accountants, but a good deal of what that person must do is to keep your affairs organized. If your designee cannot do it in his or her own life, then he or she cannot do it for you.

You may have a trustworthy, capable daughter ... in Hawaii or Guam and a slightly less capable (but equally trustworthy) son next door. Need I say more? Your appointed person must also be willing to do what you need him or her to do.

Is that person a family member? A trusted adviser (generally, financial advisers are barred from so serving and attorneys will do it reluctantly, perhaps for longstanding clients) A friend? Remember, any person so serving may be paid for his or her time, sacrifice and efforts, so that shouldn't be a concern. It need not be the same person for everything; one size doesn't always fit all.

Counsel can help you narrow the selection of your agents in this process. It's one of the things we do at Cunningham, Chernicoff & Warshawsky when we help you with your estate planning needs.

Your future begins now.