Choosing an Executor for Probate

The “executor” is the person you pick in your Will to manage your affairs after you are deceased.  They are responsible for opening the estate, collecting all property into the estate, paying creditors, making important decisions, and ultimately distributing what is left to the beneficiaries.  Our estate planning attorneys have put together a few tips:

1. Pick someone who is financially responsible.

In administering an estate, there is a lot of record keeping and accounting to be done.  It also requires prioritizing creditors and handling the valuation of property, and handling any disputes over property.  For this, you want someone with some financial sense, or at least someone who knows what they don’t know, and will seek help when they need it.

2. Pick someone you trust.

Even financially responsible people can be crooks.  You want to pick someone that you know will carry out your wishes.  While it is true that accounting must be filed with the Court, and they will oversee the administration of the estate, once someone has absconded with substantial estate assets, you may never find them. If you want your beneficiaries to actually receive what you leave them, pick someone you trust.

3. Pick someone who lives in the state.

This is not a requirement, nor is it an absolute, but it is helpful.  If there is someone in the state, that will save your executor from having to obtain a resident process agent, and it will be a smoother transition.  Also, someone local will be easier to deal with if they do mishandle the assets.

4. Pick someone who is actually likely to be the executor.

This is mostly important if you are drafting a Will at a younger age.  It is important to pick someone who will likely be around and will likely be competent.  It also helps to pick someone who has expressed a willingness to fill that role for you.

5. Have some backup choices selected.

There are no limits to this, but we usually recommend having at least three listed.  If the first one does not qualify, refuses to take on the role, or otherwise is incapacitated or predeceases you, you want to let the Court know who your second choice would be.

Download Free PDF Guide On The Probate Process

If you need help with drafting a Will or other estate planning needs in Wake County or Durham County, contact us for a free initial consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys.