The executor of a will is the person designated with the task of administering the will's instructions. The responsibilities of an executor include making sure all assets are accounted for, all existing debts and tax obligations are paid, and that remaining assets are distributed to the correct parties in accordance with the deceased person's wishes. These are all important tasks and, therefore, selecting an executor is an important decision.
First of all, you should consider that selecting a beneficiary as your executor might lead to a conflict of interests because a beneficiary who is also an executor may be required to choose between awarding assets to him or herself or to another beneficiary. This situation is best avoided from the beginning by selecting an executor who is not a beneficiary.
In addition, if your assets include a business, you should be cautious about selecting an executor who is also a partner in your business. Once again, this situation can create conflicts of interest because the executor/business partner may have motivation to continue running the business, while it may be in your beneficiaries' best interest to sell it.
If your assets are primarily marketable securities, you do not need to be too concerned with your executor's business or financial knowledge. However, if you own a wide range of complex assets, you should select an individual with experience in those types of assets. If you don't have a friend or family member with the necessary expertise, consider hiring a lawyer, accountant or similar type of professional to act as your executor for a fee.
Finally, it is also a good idea to try to select someone who knows your beneficiaries and can carry on a healthy working relationship with them. To learn more, check out Choose The Right Executor.