Choosing an executor: Professional vs. family member

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Estate Planning

Selecting an executor for your estate is a significant decision. This decision impacts how well your executor carries out your wishes after you pass away. The choice often comes down to appointing a professional or a trusted family member. It’s important to take a close look at each option when making this crucial decision.

Professional executor advantages

Professional executors typically include a bank, trust company, or attorney. Appointing a professional executor offers several benefits. Professionals bring expertise and experience. This ensures prompt and proper handling of all legal and financial matters. Furthermore, their objectivity helps prevent conflicts among beneficiaries. They have no personal stake in the estate, so they can act without bias.

Professional executor disadvantages

However, there are drawbacks to choosing a professional executor. Professional executors charge fees, which can be a percentage of the estate’s value or an hourly rate. These fees potentially reduce the inheritance for beneficiaries. 

Additionally, they may lack personal knowledge of the family dynamics involved. This can influence how they carry out the deceased’s wishes. Finally, professional executors must adhere to strict legal protocols and procedures. This means they are typically less flexible.

Family member advantages

Appointing a trusted family member as an executor offers its own set of benefits. Family members often have a deep, personal understanding of the deceased’s wishes. This can lead to more personalized and thoughtful decision-making. They may also be more willing to make accommodations that align with the family’s unique needs. Moreover, using a family member can be more cost-effective. This allows more of the estate’s assets to go to the beneficiaries.

Family member disadvantages

However, there are potential downsides to this choice as well. Serving as an executor is a time-consuming and complex responsibility. The responsibilities involved can be overwhelming for someone without legal or financial expertise. Lacking experience increases the likelihood of mistakes or delays in the probate process. 

Emotional involvement can also lead to conflicts of interest among beneficiaries. This can be especially difficult when the family member is dealing with their own grief.

Weighing your options

Choosing the right executor is a critical step in ensuring they handle your estate the way you want. Think about the size and complexity of your estate and the personalities involved. If family dynamics are tricky or the estate is complex, a professional might be the safer bet. 

If a trusted family member understands your wishes and can handle the responsibility, they might be the better choice. Ultimately, the best decision is the one that brings you peace of mind and secures your legacy. If either option will help you take care of your loved ones and honor your wishes, they will be the right choice.

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