In a will, an executor has a tremendously important job. Sometimes an executor is called an executrix (if female), a trustee, or a personal representative. Regardless of the title used, the job of the executor is to make sure that the instructions set out in your will are followed.

If you’re buying a home and asking a Realtor what is important to consider, he or she may respond by saying, “Location, location, location!” In choosing an executor, my advice would be quite similar. My preferred considerations in choosing an executor are location, relation, and cooperation.

Let’s consider the first part of the triad – location. It matters a great deal where the executor lives. If he or she lives near you and your assets, it will likely be relatively easy for your executor to act for your estate when necessary. However, if your executor of a will lives in another city, province, or country, it will be somewhat more difficult for your executor to do all the things that may be required of him or her, such as selling off your assets for fair market value, interacting with your bank, contacting your creditors, and applying to the local court to probate your estate. While location isn’t everything when choosing an executor, it is a very important consideration.

The second item in the triad is relation. In Canada, an executor is typically someone who is closely related to you. In most cases, spouses and adult children are the best choices for executors. For single people without children, siblings are often good choices. You typically want to pick someone who is close to you and willing to take on the responsibility, someone who is around your age or even younger, and, in many cases, someone who will otherwise benefit from the estate. If your spouse or adult child is already a primary beneficiary of your estate, it makes a lot of sense to consider appointing that person as an executor as well.

The last thing to consider is cooperation. First of all, is the person you’re considering even willing to take on the responsibility? If the answer is yes, will this person be willing to follow the instructions you have set out in your will? If the answer is also yes, will your choice for executor be able to get along with the other beneficiaries. A cooperative person who will happily follow the provisions of your will is likely a good candidate.

So remember, when choosing an executor, think location, relation, and cooperation!