Usually, the person or people named as executors under the deceased’s last will and testament will be appointed as executors of the deceased’s will. In many cases, this will be a spouse, relative or close friend of the deceased. In other cases, the deceased may have chosen to appoint a lawyer or bank as executor.
In practice, a person making a last will is free to decide who to appoint as executor. There are however some legal restrictions. Certain states impose restrictions on who can act as an executor. Normally, a person will not be able to act as an executor if they are under the age of majority in their state, have been convicted of a felony or are not a U.S. citizen.
In most cases, the only real requirements are that you choose someone who is capable of doing the job and who is honestly willing to do it. Many people often agree to perform the role of executor when asked but never really expect to have to carry out the role. When the time comes, they realise the amount of work involved and decide not to act. In that instance, your alternate executor will be called upon to act – assuming you named an alternate executor in your will. Of course, that person could also refuse to act if they so wished.
If none of your named executors are willing to act, the court will appoint an executor in accordance with state law. This could be a family member or even a court appointed nominee such as a probate lawyer. Where a professional is appointed by the court to probate your estate, their costs will have to be paid for by the estate.
The important message in all of this is to choose your executor and alternate executor carefully. Speak with them before you nominate them in your will and ensure that they are genuinely willing to carry out the role. If they are not, choose someone else.
How Can EstateBee Help You?
If you are planning on making a will, then check out our Legal Will Kit and our book entitled Make Your Own Last Will & Testament. Each will guide you step-by-step through the process of making a last will and give you an in-depth overview of the things you need to consider when choosing an executor, including a detailed overview of the role of executor, executor’s liabilities, executor duties and responsibilities, and much more.
If you simply want to make a last will and testament, check out our Online Last Will Software. It will guide you step-by-step through the process of making a will. Detailed help and information are available at every stage.
Alternatively, if you are an executor and want more information on how to probate an estate, check out our book “How to Probate an Estate – A Step-by-Step Guide for Executors.” This book explores the entire probate process from the moment the deceased passes away right through to the distribution of assets. It is a must read for anybody considering taking on the role of executor or trying to navigate the probate process.
For more information on any of EstateBee’s products, please contact our customer service team who would be happy to help you.
William is a personal finance journalist and writes on matters affecting people and their finances.