What Are the Qualifications for an Executor for an Estate?

By Wayne Thomas

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.

Personal Representatives

Although states vary on the specific terminology used when referring to probate proceedings, the term executor generally applies only to the person or institution that you appoint in your will. If you die without a valid will in place or the individual you appoint does not qualify or is unwilling to serve, the probate court appoints what is known as an administrator to carry out the same duties. In most states, both executors and administrators are often referred to under the umbrella term personal representative.


The qualifications for who may serve as your executor are generally not very strict. Most states require that an individual executor be an adult, typically 18 years old, and be mentally competent. Some states also require that your executor not be a felon, and that any corporation appointed to serve be duly authorized by the state to handle probate. If the person or institution you name does not meet these qualifications, the court will deny the appointment. If an executor becomes disqualified while serving, such as being convicted of a felony, that event is grounds for removal by the court.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Practical Considerations

In some cases, an executor who qualifies to serve may be affected by other rules. For example, many states do not require that your executor be a resident of the state where probate is administered. However, it is not uncommon for state law to require a local co-executor to be appointed for receiving official correspondence from the court. Also, some states do not waive the bond requirement for out-of-state executors, and traveling back and forth may lead to additional reimbursement costs to be paid from the estate. Practical considerations such as these may indirectly limit who you choose to serve as executor of your estate.

Executor Responsibility

Executors exercise significant discretion and control over your assets while probate is pending. For this reason, state law requires every executor to act in the best interests of both your estate and those entitled to receive property under your will, known as beneficiaries. This duty is referred to as the fiduciary responsibility and requires the executor to refrain self-dealing such as investing your property in his personal business. In cases where an executor has abused his role, a court may order his removal and hold him personally liable for any damages. This can cause serious delays in the probate process and potentially unrecoverable losses to the beneficiaries. Understanding the character of the person you are considering to serve as your executor before you make the appointment can help avoid mismanagement of your estate.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Guidelines for an Executor of an Estate for Indiana


Related articles

How Much Can an Executor Charge for Services in Ohio?

When you die, someone must carry out the task of collecting and distributing your property. The process is known as probate, and the person you name in your will to be in charge of administering probate is known as the executor. Although the amount of work involved in a probate proceeding can vary, executors in Ohio are entitled to compensation from your estate for their services, and this compensation is based on the total value of your property.

How to Stop Estate Executors That Steal Everything

The executor of an estate is generally a person the deceased named in his will, a person who submits the will to probate and then obtains control of the deceased's affairs by qualifying as his personal representative. The executor has a fiduciary duty — a duty of trust and integrity — to the estate's beneficiaries. While most people try to appoint trustworthy individuals as their executors, the case sometimes arises where a dishonest executor needs to be removed.

Can the Executor of a Will Put Property in Probate?

When a person dies, his assets must be distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries or heirs. To accomplish this, most of these assets go through the probate process first. This process, often administered by the courts, varies according to each state’s laws. Typically, title to a deceased person’s property cannot be changed without first going through the probate steps.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Who Is Designated to Carry Out the Terms of a Will?

After an individual passes away, it is up to the executor to carry out the terms of the will as written by the ...

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 ...

Can You Remove an Executor if Ancillary Probate Is Not Filed?

When a decedent names you as a beneficiary in his will, you may not be able to claim your inheritance until the will is ...

Duties of the Executor of a Will in Texas

Wills often nominate an executor to administer the deceased’s estate after he dies. Once officially appointed by a ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED