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Choosing an executor is a vital part of the estate planning process

Columnist Dave Ramsey says an executor needs to be trustworthy, conscientious, good at talking with people, mature, capable of handling life events with a level head and have an honest heart.

Dave Says — Dave Ramsey column sig

Dear Dave — What exactly is an executor, and what part do they play in someone’s will? — Gabe

Simply put, an executor manages the last will and testament of someone who dies.

Acting as an executor is an honor and a huge responsibility. As the designated representative of the deceased, executors are responsible for making sure the deceased’s assets are distributed according to the will.

Executors deal with probate court, tell everyone who needs to know about the death, pay outstanding debt, distribute assets, and generally represent the deceased person whenever needed.

Think of someone you know who is trustworthy, conscientious and good at talking to people. This person also needs to be mature, capable of handling life events with a level head and have an honest heart. You need to think about where your potential executor lives, too, because they could end up spending a lot of time working with the courts in your area.

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If you already have someone in mind who has all the right personal qualities, but lives out of state, research your state’s requirements for an executor’s location. Virtual meetings could be a possibility.

The amount of time needed for an executor to handle your affairs when you’re gone could be enormous. Depending on the complexity of your estate, it could take months—or even years.

Once you settle on someone as executor, be honest with them about all the responsibilities that come with the job.

If you’re unable to find someone appropriate, you can always hire a professional executor.

Dave Ramsey is a personal money-management expert, a bestselling author and host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Dave Ramsey Show,” which is heard locally on KROC-AM. For more financial advice, visit daveramsey.com .

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