How to Prepare to Be an Executor

When someone asks you to be the executor of his or her will, that person is putting a ton of responsibility on your shoulders. That person is expecting you to be able to navigate the legal system, deal with relatives who might disagree with the will, and essentially ensure that his or her wishes are carried out. You will likely find this process stressful. To decrease the stress that you feel, you will want to talk to the person who is writing the will before he or she passes away. This will allow you to make sure that you are able to carry out your duties as effectively as possible. Here are three questions that you need to ask the testator.

1. Where's the will?

This might seem crazy, but there are many cases when a person passes away and does not say specifically where the will is. This can lead to a period of frantic searching and stress that will make it difficult to properly mourn for your dear friend or family member who has passed. To avoid this stress, set a location with the testator where the will should always be kept. Make sure that you write this location down or store it on your computer.

2. Would you consider joint accounts?

If the testator is planning on leaving many items, including any property and vehicles, to his or her spouse, the easiest way to make sure that ownership is transferred smoothly is to have the testator create joint accounts. You, as the executor, should be willing and able to facilitate this because it is going to make your job much easier in the long run. If you have the spouse on the title of any major property, he or she definitely have ownership after the testator passes away, allowing you to focus on other elements of the will. See if the testator would like you to take him or her to the bank or have a banker come to him or her to make the accounts joint accounts.

3. What online accounts should I know about?

If the testator has money that is in an online payment system, such as PayPal, or other funds because he or she sold items online, you are going to need the passwords to these accounts to make sure that these funds are not lost. Ask the testator to make a list of all of his or her usernames and passwords to make sure that you have easy access to the accounts.

For more information, talk to a probate lawyer.