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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Should I give my executor a copy of my Will?

Although there is never one answer that is right for everyone all the time, there is one thing that is always a bad idea. That is, not letting your executor know that he or she is your executor.

You have some options. You could choose to give your executor a copy of it. On the other hand, you could choose not to give your executor a copy but simply to let your executor know that he or she has been appointed under your Will.

What are your concerns in letting your executor have a copy of the Will? Most clients cite privacy as the main issue. They say they don't really want their executors to know personal, financial and business information until it's necessary for them to have it (i.e. when the client passes away). Perhaps this could be addressed by keeping financial papers only with the original Will, which won't be handled by the executor until after the death of the testator.

Another consideration for some executors arises when one of their children is the executor. They don't necessarily want any of their children to know their plans, because they feel that might cause a problem should they change their plans later. They feel they might have given rise to certain expectations that could end up being disappointed.

Many married couples name each other as first choice for executor, with one or more of the children being appointed as an alternate executor. They often tell the child who is the alternate executor that he or she has been appointed, and that the other parent has a copy of the Will.

Whether or not you give your executor a copy of the Will, you should retain control of the original and let your executor know where it is kept. It is essential that your executor knows where to get the original as it is needed for the administration of your estate. If your executor has to search for it, this will lead to unneccessary delays, and of course the possibility that your executor won't be able to find it. Usually Wills are kept in the bank safety deposit box, the lawyer's office or in a safe at home.

If you've ever prepared an inventory of your assets and debts, perhaps as part of your Will-planning with your lawyer, or w,perhaps ith your financial advisor or pre-paid funeral services, consider keeping that inventory with your Will. This is a great way to help your executor administer your estate, because your executor will know certain important information, such as where you bank and where you hold your insurance policies.

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