How Do I Pick an Executor of My Will?

By Jill Lewis

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.

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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.

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How to Choose an Executor for a Will

References

Related articles

How to Make Someone the Executor of a Will

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.

How Long Does it Take to Probate a Will?

Probate is the legal process a person must go through to settle the estate of a deceased person who died with a will. The average probate process can be anywhere from a few months to over a year; the time frame varies widely by state. The length of time to probate a will depends on a sum of factors, like state requirements, the heirs and the amount of assets involved.

Procedure for Appointing an Executor of a Will

The testator, or person drafting the will, appoints an executor to handle the distribution of the estate. If the will does not name an executor, the court appoints an administrator. Many people consider the role of executor to be an honorary appointment. However, an executor incurs serious responsibilities in administering the affairs for the estate. While the final decision rests with the testator, following certain guidelines can minimize misunderstandings and may prevent serious legal difficulties down the line.

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