One of the most important aspects of a last will and testament is that it clarifies who you want to manage your property and affairs once you are no longer able to do so yourself. There are multiple positions to be filled if you want your property managed well and you want them filled by people you know and trust. Who you choose depends greatly on the task they will need to complete, so before picking people, it is advantageous to thoroughly understand the services that will need to be performed.
The executor is an individual named by the testator (the person to whom the will belongs) who is responsible for a number of tasks. They must locate, manage, and distribute the deceased’s resources. This has the potential to be a very simple or very complex job, depending on the amount and type of assets the deceased had. If the will specifies exactly which persons are given which assets, the executor will be responsible to ensuring that those assets are properly distributed. If the will does not specify, they will have to follow relevant probate (proving of a will) laws in order to fulfill that duty. The executor will also have to file the will in probate court.
Executors are also responsible to notifying relevant agencies of the death of the testator, including banks, credit card companies, government agencies like the post office, Social Security Administration, etc. They must also pay any debts, taxes, and expenses that may exist.
Because the role of executor includes so much responsibility, you will want to name someone whom you consider to be up to the task. You will want to discuss it will them beforehand so they are aware of their responsibilities before your death. It is also possible to name multiple people as executors, but this should be thoroughly considered because having multiple executors will usually have to get each other’s permission before completing tasks and this can slow the process down immensely.
The appointment of one or more legal guardians is usually only a concern for people who still have children who are not considered legal adults, but also for those whose children are still dependants. A guardian will be responsible for the care of your children. As such, you will want to make the choice wisely. Appointing a guardian generally affects other aspects of the will because many testators will want to write in provisions that provide resources for guardians to use in caring for their children. As with executors, potential guardians should be aware that they have been named as guardians and should fully understand and accept the responsibilities associated with the role.
Writing a will and organizing your assets can be an involved process, but many people find that having a current will provides them with a sense of comfort and peace knowing they have their affairs in order and that they have made things easier for their loved ones. Though you can absolutely write a will on your own, it may be beneficial to do so with the assistance of a legal professional who is experienced with the subject, especially if you have a large and/or diverse body of assets.