Jonathon Lansink

by  Jonathon Lansink, CPA

It can be easy to get caught up in the legal aspect of estate planning, such as writing a will, naming beneficiaries, and avoiding a lengthy probate. All of this is well and good. But it’s important to also consider this: Who will carry out these plans when you’re gone?

Yes, someone needs to run the show when you no longer can, and you must determine who this person—i.e., your executor or personal representative—will be. To help you make your decision, here are four characteristics of a good candidate.


Perhaps more than anything else, you want your executor to be organized. After all, this person must handle your legal and financial documents, communicate with different advisors and lawyers, and take care of your beneficiaries and their unique needs. Whew!

This can be a lot to throw on one person all at once, so being able to handle it will require a knack for organization. Look for someone who has experience handling finances or is comfortable overseeing a schedule, as these individuals are likely very organized.

Objective and impartial

In short, the job of a executor is “To carry out the terms of the deceased person’s will (if they have one) and settle their final affairs.” When choosing someone to do this for you, make sure you trust that the individual can focus on YOUR final wishes and not be distracted by their own.

Often people select a family member to be their executor, and this can be a good choice. But before you select someone, consider their ability to carry out your wishes objectively, or if they might be tempted to add their own thoughts and make changes. Your estate should work for YOU, and not anyone else.


Executors don’t need to be legal or financial experts; however, they will likely be working with lawyers, accountants, and state officials. It would be beneficial to have an executor who is fairly knowledgeable and a quick learner. This could also make it easier for your executor to play an active role in managing your estate.


It’s hard to know how much work an executor role will require; each estate is different. However, there are almost always people counting this person to do the work as accurately and prudently as possible. Serving as an executor may feel like having two full-time jobs when it’s done on top of other responsibilities. Be aware that your executor may be stretched to their limits—and choose someone accordingly.

Make the right choice for your estate

In short, choosing a personal representative may be one of the most crucial steps of your estate plan. If you are having trouble naming a representative or otherwise need help from an advisor, we’re here to help. Contact us today.