Who Can Serve as Executor?

One important reason to have a will is to be able to name your executor (also called a personal representative). 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.

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. For more information on who to choose, click here.

Next, you need to make sure the person or institution will be allowed to serve. States often have qualifications that a person must meet in order to act as executor. For example, minors and convicted felons may not serve in this capacity. In addition, some states don't allow executors who live in another state unless they are family members. An elder law attorney can tell you who is qualified to serve in your state.

If you die without a will or the person named in the will can't serve as executor, then the probate court will choose an executor. 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 is has priority and the heirs can't agree on who should serve, then the court will choose.

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