Question: Who can serve as executor of your estate?
Answer: One important reason to have a will is to be able to name your executor (also called a personal representative in my state). An executor is the person responsible for managing the administration of your estate after you die. If you don’t choose an executor, the court will choose one for you based on an order of priority set forth by statute.
The first decision is whether to choose a person or an institution to act as executor. A bank, trust company, or other institution can serve. Typically, an individual is named to serve as executor of the estate.
Next, you need to make sure the person or institution will be allowed to serve. Some states have qualifications that a person must meet in order to act as executor. For example, convicted felons or minors may not serve in this capacity. In addition, some states don’t allow executors who live in another state unless they are close family members.
It is important to be sure to investigate who is qualified to serve in a particular state.
If you die without a will or the person named in the will can’t serve as executor, the probate court will choose an executor. As indicated above, state law dictates who has priority to serve. The surviving spouse usually has first priority, followed by children. If there is no spouse or children, then other family members may be chosen. If more than one person has priority and the heirs can’t agree on who should serve, then the court will choose. It is even possible for a creditor of the estate to serve as executor of the estate (assuming no one else is able or willing to serve).
ABOUT STEVE SHANE
Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts, and a charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation, and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.
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