How to Select an Executor


Are you thinking about drafting your will and working on your estate plan? Is this causing you to weigh your choices when it comes to naming an executor?

When it comes to identifying the person whom you want as the executor of your estate, you will want to grant this duty to an individual who is both responsible and trustworthy. You need someone who you know without a doubt will respectfully carry out your last wishes.

However, you might love your friends and family yet still find yourself uncomfortable naming any of them as the executor of your estate. If that is the case, you can always turn to professionals and ask a corporate fiduciary to fill the role for you, especially if you would prefer an unbiased third party to ensure your will is carried out according to your desires. Keep in mind that a fiduciary comes with a professional fee, and this dollar amount might be based on a percentage of the value of your estate, whereas executors whom you know personally will likely carry out the duties of the role for free.

The person you choose to be the executor of your estate must be of sound mind, a U.S. resident, of legal age, and free of a felony conviction in their past.

Other Considerations

When deciding who to name as your executor, ensure that they have the availability and capabilities that the role requires. From handling bill payments and interacting with insurance companies to dealing with hospitals and the Social Security Administration, your executor might have to work with pension administrators and manage financial accounts as well.

They might even have to handle taxes on your behalf. For this reason, it may be beneficial to ask someone who does not live too far away from you. This will make it easier for them to attend court proceedings for probate, oversee your property, and fulfill these responsibilities from a local perspective.

It is crucial that you select someone who is patient. That way, they’ll be capable of handling heirs and creditors in a calm and fair manner. This type of person will likely be adept at resolving potential conflicts as well, which will minimize the amount of money your estate has to allocate toward legal disputes.

Select an individual without financial difficulties of their own. This will demonstrate financial competence on their end, which may indicate that they can manage your estate’s financial details with confidence. A person with strong organizational skills who is capable of multitasking and understanding legal jargon — or at least working alongside legal counsel — is key as well.

What to do if someone names you as their executor

If you are named as the executor of someone else’s estate, engage in a thorough discussion with the person who is trusting you with this title. Make sure you clarify expectations and preemptively address any potential issues that they may foresee.

Make sure you obtain all relevant information about the person’s assets. Ensure that they grant you access to a safety deposit box and all contacts at various financial institutions. Familiarize yourself with the process of locating their valuables, including jewelry, birth certificates, passports and keys.

Double-check that you have access to the passcodes and passwords of the person whose estate you are the executor of. Gather contact information for the person’s heirs, including names, addresses and phone numbers. Understand how to manage their debts should they die prior to paying them, too.

Carefully review the will of your friend or loved one to identify any ambiguities in the document. After looking at all these details, assess whether or not you can confidently commit the amount of time, energy and attention that the role of executor requires. Be honest with yourself, and if this is a task you cannot fulfill, consider politely declining — the sooner, the better.

This is a lot of information to take in, but the good news is that you do not have to go it alone. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, reach out to an experienced Estate attorney. Their experience with wills, trusts, estates, probate, beneficiaries, and executors can help you ensure that you make the best choice for your situation.

Do you have questions?

Count on your experienced team at Ericson, Scalise & Mangan, PC to provide you with sound guidance for your Estate Planning, Elder Law, Real Estate, Probate, Trust & Estate Administration, and other legal needs. For assistance, contact us today at (860) 229-0369, or email us at

a paper that says "probate" and a gavel sat next to it