How to Name an Executor or Personal Representative

By Maggie Lourdes

An executor, also called a personal representative, is the person in charge of distributing property to heirs and settling a decedent's estate. A female appointed to handle an estate is sometimes called an executrix. Naming an executor in a will avoids the need for a court-appointed executor after death and usually saves the estate money. This is because court-appointed executors generally charge high fees in contrast to relatives or friends who are chosen to serve.

Naming an Executor

Step 1

Choose an executor who is responsible, competent, trustworthy and willing to serve. Check executor restrictions in your state since some jurisdictions prohibit felons from serving or have special requirements for executors living out-of-state. Also check state age requirements since executors usually must be at least 18 years old.

Step 2

Include a provision in your will that specifically appoints the person of your choice as executor of your estate. When drafting your will, you should always consider consulting a legal advisor or online legal document service. Make the appointment direct and clear. For example, "I hereby nominate John Doe to serve as executor of my estate." Consider appointing an alternate executor in case your first choice is unable to serve. For example, "If John Doe cannot or will not act as my estate's executor, I nominate Jack Smith as alternate executor."

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Step 3

Consider waiving bond requirements for your executor. This means your executor will not need to post a bond to begin probating the estate. Also consider allowing for an independent or unsupervised probate of your estate. This allows for a quicker process since the executor, who then may be referred to as an independent administrator, can act with less probate court involvement. Check your state laws and carefully consider your particular circumstances when making decisions about bonds and independent probate directions.

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What if the Executor of a Will Is Dead?
 

References

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An Executor's Duties to a Beneficiary

Executors are individuals who are appointed through a will to ensure the wishes of the testator, person who created the will, are carried out. In some states, executors are called personal representatives. Since the testator is deceased, the executor owes certain duties to those who stand to benefit from the deceased's will, known as beneficiaries. While the primary duty of the executor is to follow the instructions of the testator and administer the will as written, the executor has other legal duties, called fiduciary duties, he owes the beneficiaries.

Estate Administrator Duties

When a person dies, his estate will likely go through the probate process, whether or not he left a will. During probate, the estate will be collected, debts paid and remaining assets distributed to beneficiaries. The person assigned the duty of managing the estate through this process is called an administrator or executor. Since state statutes govern estate administration, the administrator must follow state law regarding procedures and time frames.

What Does Independent Administration Mean in Probating a Will?

When someone dies, his estate may have to go through a probate process to pay final debts and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. States set their own probate procedures, and many states have simplified procedures that are cheaper and quicker for small estates. In some states, including Texas, Missouri and California, estates can be settled through a process called independent administration.

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