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Help me choose an executor of my estate

Part of writing a will is choosing an executor (in some states, like Washington, this person is called a “personal representative”). This person oversees the estate settlement process.

Perhaps you’ve been named in a loved one’s estate plan. It’s an important job. Be sure you know what you’ve signed up for and who should fill the job for you.

The main responsibilities of an executor include:

  • Notifying all interested parties and agencies of your loved one’s passing.
  • Hiring an attorney, at the expense of the estate, to guide you through the probate process, if necessary.
  • Locating the will and filing it in court.
  • Notifying the beneficiaries named in the will.
  • Inventorying all assets and having them appraised, if necessary.
  • Collecting all debts owed to the estate.
  • Paying valid claims against the estate.
  • Filing tax returns.
  • Distributing assets and obtaining receipts from beneficiaries.
  • Filing papers to finalize the estate.

How to select the right person

Part of the will planning process is selecting the person to fill the critical role of executor and who you think is up to the task. The best person for the job is someone who is responsible, organized and trustworthy. Common choices are a spouse, an adult child, a sibling or a close friend.

Talk with the person you’re considering and make sure they’re willing to accept the responsibilities. Part of your discussion should include your values and philanthropic vision, so it’s clear what’s important to you.

If you don’t have someone to complete these duties, check with your trusted advisors for their recommendation. You can also often name a bank or trust company to settle your estate for a fee. Many banks have expertise administering estates, especially large estates, but it’s important to check with them first.

Tip: It’s a good idea to select a backup person in case your first choice is unavailable.

Need help?

If you have questions or need help locating qualified professionals to assist you with your plan, please contact our gift planning team at 253-403-3093 or

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