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Who should I name as executor of my will?

Ali Katz


Q: Who should I name as executor of my will?

-Pondering probate

A: Dear Pondering:

Selecting the right executor for your will is just as—if not more—important as deciding who gets your assets.

Your executor will be legally required to take on a number of major responsibilities. They must ensure your will’s terms are carried out; handle all paperwork associated with administering your estate, including gathering and distributing your assets; and fulfill legal obligations—all while keeping family friction to a minimum.

As such, your executor should be someone immentily trustworthy, organized, and vigilant about deadlines. They should also be young enough to outlive you and be competent when called upon.

It can be tempting to name a family member, but the most important thing is the person is capable of fulfilling the required duties—and do so with minimal conflict. If you have a family filled with in-fighting and strife, it may be best to select a trusted friend or third party to avoid potential bias and/or animosity.

But depending on your state’s laws, where your executor lives, and who’s willing to accept the job, you might have no choice but to name a relative. However, the person doesn’t have to be a financial or legal professional, since they can always work with outside experts if needed.

You’re better off naming an executor who’s honest, diligent, and has good judgement to fulfill the required duties, which can sometimes take months, even years, to complete. Consult with a Personal Family Lawyer® for help naming an executor and/or identify if a will, trust, or some other combination of planning strategies is best for you, your family, and assets.