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Don't say yes to an executor position until you think it through

When someone asks if you would be the executor of one's estate when he or she is gone, it's a tremendous honor. It means the person trusts you implicitly and is willing to hand off a great deal of one's life to you, knowing you will safeguard his or her wishes and heirs. It's tempting to say yes just because it seems rude to forgo that honor, but when you say yes if you can't really follow through, you do yourself and your family member or friend a disservice. Here are some things to consider before saying yes.

First, do you have the resources to give to such a project, and can you reasonably expect that will be the case later? If you, yourself, are ailing, then you might not be in the best position to act as an executor. The same is true if you have small children, an especially demanding career or if you are dealing with your own financial or other crisis. As an executor, you might have to be able to put some of your own issues on hold to handle immediate needs for the estate.

Second, are you mentally and emotionally prepared to handle these duties? If you don't deal well with people or stress, or financial issues give you flights of anxiety, you probably aren't the best person for the job. Consider your attributes honestly and talk with your friend or family member openly about any qualms you might have before you say yes.

Finally, do you have the knowledge to handle the job or the time to learn it? You need a fairly decent grasp of financial management and the ability to learn about estate laws and tax issues that might be relevant. You can work with an estate lawyer to manage some of these issues, but you do need to be able to understand the language and concepts to make viable decisions.

Source: AARP, "Things to Know About Being an Executor of Estate," Carole Fleck, accessed March 24, 2017

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