If you die while your children are still minors or you have children who cannot care for themselves in adulthood, you'll want them to have the best possible care in your absence. Making a will gives you the opportunity to select the person you believe can provide that care. The guardian you choose should be over 18. Before naming a guardian, talk to the person you'd like to name to make sure they are willing to assume the responsibility. Name an alternate guardian as well, who can take over if the primary guardianis unable or unwilling to fulfill the responsibility. This is especially important if your children are young or will require life-long care. If you do not name a guardian to care for your children, a judge will appoint one, and it may not be someone you would have chosen.
Although it is legal to name a couple as co-guardians, it may not be advisable. It's possible the couple may choose to go their separate ways at some later date, and, if so, a custody battle could ensue.
Naming an Executor
The person who carries out or executes the instructions in a will is called an executor. Obviously, your executor should be an individual you trust. Most people choose their spouse, an adult child, a relative, a friend, or a trust company or attorney to fulfill this duty. Choose someone who can handle all of the financial matters involved with settling your estate, and check with that person ahead of time to make sure they are willing to assume the responsibility. Some states stipulate that the executor must be a state resident. It's a good idea to appoint an alternate executor in case the first person you name is unable or unwilling to fulfill the responsibility. The responsibilities of an executor generally include:
* Collecting your assets.
* Paying creditors.
* Paying taxes.
* Notifying Social Security and other agencies and companies of the death.
* Canceling credit cards, magazine subscriptions.
* Distributing assets according to the will.
While you can specify in your will that an executor waive payment in order to be eligible to serve as executor, this is only suitable if the person named is a beneficiary of the estate or a very close personal friend, since being an executor is time consuming. You should expect your estate to pay an independent executor for this service. Banks or trust companies will not serve as executors of estates unless entitled to payment. If no executor is named in a will, a probate judge will appoint one, most often a bank or an attorney. This will likely increase the cost.
(SOURCE: Federal Citizens Information Center)