Perhaps you are mulling over the idea of meeting with an attorney to draft your will but trying to decide who to name as your executor is slowing you down.

Think in terms of responsibilities. What is the top requirement for the person who administers your estate after you pass on?

Basic duties

If your estate goes to probate, the court will provide letters testamentary confirming the appointment of your executor. The first responsibility your executor faces will be making your funeral and burial arrangements. The funeral home will provide copies of your death certificate for the executor to give to your bank, the Social Security Administration, your brokerage house, life insurance agent and other individuals or entities that need to know about your demise. Next, the executor will open a bank account for the estate, pay the final bills and file your final tax returns. Once your administrator completes these tasks, she or he can focus on any final duties related to winding up your estate.

Legal responsibilities

Keep in mind that the person you choose as executor will be legally responsible for protecting your assets until the probate process concludes and he or she can make distributions to heirs.

Seeking help

Depending on your assets and the instructions in your will, your estate may be fairly easy to administer or more complicated than your appointee expects. While the person you choose must carry out all the duties of an executor successfully, what happens if a situation develops that raises more questions than answers? Chances are that your executor will need professional help to ensure that no legal entanglements occur. The top requirement, then, is for the person you name to use common sense and know when to ask for assistance. Your administrator may need to engage the services of an accountant, business appraiser or similar expert, but he or she will surely need the help of an attorney. The same applies when you decide whom to choose as your executor and move ahead with drafting that all-important document.