How Do I Pick an Executor of My Will?

by Jill Lewis
    Picking the right executor of your will can help ensure proper administration of your estate.

    Picking the right executor of your will can help ensure proper administration of your estate.

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    An executor of a will is someone you name in your will to manage your affairs after your death. An executor is responsible for handling your financial obligations, distributing your assets and paying creditors according to your wishes and the terms of your will. Because an executor has a legal duty to properly manage your affairs, picking the right executor is crucial to ensuring your heirs receive their assets promptly and to avoid any potential will contests.

    Step 1

    Consult with family or friends. The most popular choice for an executor is a family member or friend, because they are the ones most likely to know and respect your wishes. While an executor is not required to have any legal or financial knowledge, he may need to attend court proceedings and comply with complicated state regulations, so it is important to choose a family member or friend that is competent, organized and willing to take on the responsibilities of the position.

    Step 2

    Consider a professional. If your will involves complicated tax issues or property distribution, it may be simpler to pick a professional as executor of your will. People often choose accountants or lawyers to be the executors because these professionals are generally better equipped to handle the legal duties that come with being an executor, including any court appearances or estate taxation issues.

    Step 3

    Understand the duties of an executor. Executors must allocate property to beneficiaries, pay creditors as necessary from the assets of the estate, account to the probate court for their actions, maintain any personal or real property, and pay any taxes. Knowing these responsibilities will help you pick the person best suited for the role of executor.

    Step 4

    Name an alternate executor. Picking an alternate executor is a good idea in case there are any problems with the person you initially chose as executor. Some people may not want to take on the responsibility of executor when the time comes, and choosing an alternative will avoid having the probate court pick one of its own volition.

    Step 5

    Keep restrictions in mind. In general, executors need to be 18 years old or over, free of felony convictions and meet locality requirements. Research your state statutes or consult with an attorney to determine the exact restrictions for your state.

    About the Author

    Jill Lewis is an attorney in the insurance defense field who combines an active law practice with a freelance writing career. Concentrating on legal articles dedicated to providing practical advice to the layperson, Lewis has written for various online and print publications, including eHow and She is a graduate of New York University and the Lewis and Clark School of Law.

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