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New Jersey estate planning: Picking an executor

For many people in New Jersey, choosing the executor of their estate is as easy as turning to their spouses. Since most surviving spouses are significantly affected by the outcome of the probate process, and are often the person trusted the most by their spouses, it may be helpful for that person to be the executor/executrix of the estate. However, some spouses may not want to serve as executor or executrix, or perhaps they passed away first. In this case, the estate planning process can become a bit more challenging.

Choosing the right person for the job may depend on several factors. The first factor is whether the person is willing to take on the job. There can be a significant amount of paperwork, time and decision-making involved in being the executor of an estate, and the person chosen may not have the time or the inclination to perform the task.

Beyond this, the executor should be someone the maker of the estate plan trusts to carry out his or her wishes. Where it is true that the New Jersey court system will exercise some control over how the executor carries out his or her duties, the executor will have some discretion, and will have access to the decedent's assets. It is not unheard of for an executor or executrix to pilfer the estate's assets, which is why trust is important.

Even if there is not much for an executor to do, it is still important to make sure the appointment is agreeable to both the estate planner and the party named. No one should feel pressured into choosing someone with whom he or she does not feel comfortable. Typically, there is no need to rush the estate planning process, so taking the time to make an informed decision is encouraged.

Source: dailyfinance.com, Who Should You Ask to Be Executor of Your Estate?, Michele Lerner, Oct. 13, 2013

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