How to Make Someone the Executor of a Will

By Anna Assad

You need to cover the important aspects of your estate in your will, including who you are leaving assets to, how much each beneficiary will get and who your executor is. You may make a person your executor by naming him as such in your will. However, your will needs to be valid in your state so your executor can get the authority he needs in probate court. Before you, the testator, create your will, check your state's laws regarding will creation and allowable will types.

Executor's Role

An executor handles all aspects of your estate. He will start the estate proceedings and will participate in the proceedings; he will sell assets and give the beneficiaries their share. The executor pays your debts, manages the estate's money, prepares and files your final tax returns and protects the estate from financial loss. If you have a car, for example, the executor will take steps to protect it from damage before it is sold. If the car is damaged, it will lose value and your heirs will get less. Your executor will handle any problems that arise, such as a dispute over your will or a creditor trying to claim an illegitimate debt.


You'll need to pick an executor who is legally able to serve in your state; usually, this means a person over the age of 18 who is mentally competent and who doesn't have any felony convictions. You may select a relative, but you will want to chose a person whom your beneficiaries will accept in the executor role. An executor should be organized, honest, pay attention to detail and able to handle the financial responsibilities, court appearances and paperwork that come with the role. When you're deciding between potential executors, speak to your candidates. You should confirm the person you pick is willing to do the job before you name him in your will.

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Alternate Executor

You may name an alternate executor in your will. If your first executor is unwilling or unable to serve, your alternate will take his place. Speak to the alternate executor before you name her in your will. She has to be willing to take on the responsibility, if the first executor can't act. The alternate executor must still meet the minimum age qualification for an executor in your state.


Your will has to conform to state laws and you must sign it when you're done. Your named executor won't get court appointment if your will is invalid. State laws differ on will requirements, and the rules for typed or handwritten wills might not be the same. Usually, you need at least two adults to sign the will as witnesses to your signature. These two or more people need to be considered adults in your state. Some states forfeit all or part of a beneficiary's share if she is a witness to the will, so use witnesses who won't benefit from your estate. You and your witnesses may sign notarized affidavits that comply with your state's laws to confirm your will. With the affidavit, your will is considered "self-proven," and your executor won't need your witnesses in court.

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Can You Make Someone an Executor in a Will Without Going Through a Lawyer?


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Can You Probate a Will Yourself?

The executor of a will has the main responsibility to ensure that the instructions in the will are carried out as written. To do this, the executor works with the probate court. Although all U.S. states allow an executor or personal representative to work with the probate court without an attorney, an attorney can be helpful, especially if probate is complicated or a will contest erupts.

Role of Will Executor

The executor of a will, also known as the personal representative, is the person who will carry out the instructions in your will when you die, according to FindLaw. The executor is responsible for wrapping up the affairs of your estate, including filing the will with the probate court, paying any debts, distributing the estate's assets and defending the validity of your will if it is challenged, according to FindLaw.

What if the Executor of a Will Is Dead?

The person you name in your will to manage your estate is called the executor. Other terms include fiduciary or personal representative. This person's duties include gathering your assets, paying taxes and bills owed by your estate and distributing the remaining assets to your beneficiaries according to the terms of your will. If the person you named as the executor is not available or is unwilling to serve for any reason, your state's laws allow the court to appoint someone else as executor.

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