AARP Article: How to Be a Good Executor of a Will or Estate

What to know about managing someone’s final wishes

by Sharon Waters, AARP

The wave of people prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic to write their wills is creating yet another wave in estate planning: all the people being asked to one day put those wills into effect.

They are the executors — the relatives or friends designated in a will as the final administrator of a deceased person’s estate. If you have agreed to serve as an executor, you likely know the outlines of the task you face: closing accounts, inventorying assets and distributing bequests. Even when it’s a relatively simple situation — one spouse dies and leaves everything to the other — the paperwork is daunting. But when it gets more complicated, like if a widow dies and there are lots of children and assets, there’s more. Much more.

“Being an executor is not an easy job,” says Los Angeles estate planning attorney Terrence Franklin. The paperwork can exceed your worst expectations. The human side can be difficult, too: You may need to pacify impatient heirs or mediate domestic squabbles. Taking on this role is a true sign of devotion, Franklin says. And although you might get paid for the work, it is primarily a labor of love.

Follow these steps to ensure that, when the time comes for you to serve, you honor the deceased, serve his or her heirs, and do your job as efficiently as possible…

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