Can the Same Person Be an Executor & Trustee?

By Phil M. Fowler

The same person can generally serve as both estate executor and trustee so long as the appointed individual meets the independent legal capacity requirements to act as an executor and as trustee. In fact, appointing the same individual to both positions is a fairly common estate planning technique. Concurrent service as trustee and executor can help streamline the probate and estate administration process.

The same person can generally serve as both estate executor and trustee so long as the appointed individual meets the independent legal capacity requirements to act as an executor and as trustee. In fact, appointing the same individual to both positions is a fairly common estate planning technique. Concurrent service as trustee and executor can help streamline the probate and estate administration process.

Executor

An executor is the person appointed to carry out the probate of a person's estate after that person dies. Probate proceeds according to the instructions set forth in the deceased person's valid will or, if the deceased had no valid will, according to general provisions outlined in state law. A will can identify a candidate to serve as executor, but ultimately a probate judge must assign the probate executor. Most often the probate judge appoints the person designated in the will, unless the judge determines the person is incapable. For example, if the person has become mentally incapacitated since the will was created, the judge will appoint a different executor.

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Trustee

The trustor, meaning the person who creates a trust, identifies the person who will serve as trustee. A probate judge does not have to ratify a trustee's appointment. Generally, any mentally competent adult is qualified to serve as trustee. In some states, a trustee must take a formal oath and post a bond.

Estate Plan

Trusts and wills are separate estate planning forms that, together, carry out a cohesive estate plan. Similarly, executors and trustees are separate legal roles that work together to carry out overlapping estate planning goals. The trustee manages any property held in the trust while the executor manages and closes out the estate, including distributing property bequeathed under the will in probate. No state or federal law prohibits the same qualified person from serving as both trustee and executor of the same estate.

Acceptance Required

Judges never force anybody to serve as either an executor or trustee. Instead, a person appointed to serve as either executor or trustee may decline the appointment. It is always a good idea, therefore, to consult with the individual who will be appointed as both trustee and executor before the time of appointment comes, just to make sure the person is willing. If the person accepts one appointment and denies the other, this could create an unanticipated hiccup in the estate plan. One benefit to dual service is the appointed person can receive separate compensation for her services as both trustee and executor.

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Administration of a Testamentary Trust in Arizona

References

Related articles

Can There Be Three Executors of a Will?

Probate judges oversee the appointment of estate executors and have the power to appoint multiple executors if that is what the deceased person instructed in his will. State and federal laws impose no restrictions on the number of executors who can collectively manage a probate administration. However, a probate judge may not appoint three executors unless the decedent had a sound reason for making this request, as multiple executors may give rise to potential conflicts during the probate process.

What Are the Qualifications for an Executor for an Estate?

Executors play a vital role in ensuring that your property passes according to your wishes after death. It is the job of the executor to collect your property, pay your outstanding debts and distribute your remaining assets through a court-supervised process known as probate. Although states have some basic legal requirements for executors, other qualities, such as financial responsibility and trustworthiness, are often considered most important by will makers when choosing whom to appoint for this important task.

How to Get an Executor to Probate a Will

If you are expecting to receive property after the death of a loved one, you may be in a hurry for probate to start. Settling the affairs of an estate is a time-consuming process. Sufficient time must be given so that all parties are properly notified and all necessary precautions taken. In rare instances, an executor may act negligently, causing unnecessary delays. Under such circumstances, the law provides you with a remedy.

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