Many people think that the job of being an executor for a friend or family member is more an honor than it is real work. Not true. The job can be very difficult, time-consuming and can strain relations with beneficiaries.
Choose your executor carefully. If you choose an individual, that person should have some business, legal or financial experience. They should be detail-oriented and have time available to spend on the job. If you don’t have a friend or family member who meets this description, it may be best to choose a corporate executor, such as a bank or trust company. A corporate executor will charge a fee but will do a careful and professional job and relieve your friends and family members of the responsibility.
Of course every estate is different, and it is the larger and more complex estates where the job can be particularly burdensome. The poem below summarizes in a humorous way some of the problems.
THE EXECUTORI had a friend who died and he,
On earth so loved and trusted me,
That ere he quit this earthly shore,
He made me his executor.
He tasked me through my natural life,
To guard the interests of his wife,
To see that everything was done,
Both for his daughter and his son.
I have his money to invest,
And though I try my level best,
To do what wisely, I’m advised,
My judgment oft is criticized.
His widow once so calm and meek,
Comes, hot with rage, three times a week,
And rails at me, because I must,
To keep my oath appear unjust.
His children hate the sight of me,
Although their friend I’ve tried to be,
And every relative declares,
I interfere with his affairs.
Now when I die I’ll never ask,
A friend to carry such a task,
I’ll spare him all such anguish sore,
And leave a hired executor.—Today and Tomorrow, Edgar A. Guest (Chicago: Reilly & Lee Company, 1942)