When you write a will, you need to name an executor. An executor is the person responsible for carrying out your final directions and wishes regarding your property and belongings. The person you name as executor should be trustworthy and responsible, as she'll have to manage your entire estate. You don't need a lawyer to make a will or to name an executor. You also don't have to ask a person for permission before naming her as executor in your will, although it is in your best interest to do so. If your chosen executor decides she doesn't want the responsibility after you die, the court will have to find another person to manage your estate. The lack of an executor will delay probate, the court proceedings necessary to settle your last affairs. A probate delay may financially affect your loved ones if they're relying on money from your estate to pay bills.
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Talk to the person you want to name executor. Confirm that she understands what an executor does and what her responsibilities will be. Tell her where you are storing your will, so she doesn't have trouble finding the document when you die.
Name the person you chose as the executor in the appointment or naming section of the will. Write in her full legal name where indicated if you're using a will form. Don't use nicknames.
Use state-required wording for nominating an executor if you're writing the will yourself. Wording differs by state; check the official website of your county's probate or surrogate's court to find state laws regarding executor nomination wording in a will. An example of a common acceptable phrasing is, "I hereby name, appoint and constitute (executor's name here) as the executor of my Last Will and Testament."
Complete your will. Both you and at least one witness over 18 need to sign the will. State laws vary on how many witnesses you need. Check with the county probate court for laws relating to proper final will execution.
Store the will in the spot you told the executor. Tell your executor if you change the will's location later.
- Will form or draft
Tips & Warnings
You may want to name an alternate executor in your will. The alternate becomes executor if the first executor dies or is unable to act as executor when you die.
An executor is also called a personal representative in some states.
Making a will that doesn't meet state requirements may make the will ineligible for probate.
References & Resources
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