Executors are crucial players in an estate plan; they handle your will, carry out your final wishes and ensure accurate distribution of your possessions with as little hassle as possible. They act as your advocate and ultimately help your family move forward after your passing.

However, the wrong executor could spell disaster for you, your family and your entire estate. It could cost your family thousands of dollars in probate court and possibly create more emotional trauma in the future.

The three options

Executors come in all shapes and sizes, but there are three common options that people choose from while planning your will.

The family member – Some people want to place a family member or relative as their executor because they know them on a deep, personal level. The family ties make people feel like they can trust their executor to act on their behalf instead of on the interest of others. It’s a solid option if you know a relative who can handle the duties that come in an executor role.

A bank or trust company – Many people do not have a family member or close relative that could handle the responsibility in an executor role, so they resort to a company or bank to help manage their estate. It is a common option because someone will always be there to handle your estate while the company or bank exists. However, it may jump from different representatives in that group over time (creating liability issues).

The third-party professional – Similar to a bank or trust company, you could find a third-party professional who has expertise in executing estates. An expert allows you to have the impartial status of a trust company/bank and the sole liability like a family member. You can build a relationship over time with the individual if they continue their practice.

Each option offers unique advantages and disadvantages. You may feel drawn to one option over another depending on your relationships, how large your estate is and if you have someone already in mind.

You must weigh each option and decide what you need in an executor. Once you limit down to one or two options, you will find it easier to select the right person to name in your will, which will simply things for your family as well.