Naming an Executor means someone will be ready and able to handle your affairs and settle your estate after you pass away.

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Appoint someone you trust to handle administering your estate after you pass away.

Appointing an Executor is important for a number of reasons. Your Executor will have the legal authority to do everything needed to administer your estate after you pass away. This person is legally responsible for carrying out your wishes as provided in your Will or other Estate Planning documents.

If you fail to appoint an Executor, you’re leaving everything up to the courts. Dying intestate (without a Will or Trust) means state intestacy laws come into play and determine who gets what from your estate — instead of you having the ability to decide. 

Be sure to name an Executor when creating your Will so you have the peace of mind that your estate and legacy will be honored how you intend.

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What does an Executor do? 

An Executor (or, if female, often referred to as Executrix) of a Will is the person you name to do everything related to administering (settling) your estate after you pass away. 

The Executor’s first responsibility is to account for and list all the assets in an estate. This can include real estate, financial holdings, collectibles and direct investments. He or she will use the list to determine a total value of the estate, and then move forward with settling it by: 

  • Notifying beneficiaries

  • Paying any taxes the estate may owe 

  • Paying off all debts

  • Placing notices as required

  • Distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries and heirs

What Does “Being an Executor” Mean?
What Powers Does an Executor Have?
What Can an Executor NOT Do?
Does an Executor Get Paid?
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Who should be an Executor?

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Choosing an Executor can be difficult. The most important quality you want to look for is how responsible someone is. Keep in mind, if you don’t have someone in your life who you feel could adequately fulfill the duties necessary to be an effective Executor, you do have other options. Consider one of the following as your Executor: 

  • Your Spouse 
    For married couples, a spouse is often named Executor. Note that assets jointly owned will automatically pass to a surviving spouse anyway.

  • A Family Member
    If you’re not married, choosing a close family member you trust is another option. This is also an option even if you’re married. There are no requirements that your spouse be your Executor. 

  • A Trusted Friend or Confident
    Selecting a close friend whom you trust is a viable option when it comes to choosing your Executor. Just make sure this person is in good health, is ideally the same age or younger than you and would be willing to take on the role.

  • Accountant, Bank, Attorney or Trust Company
    If you truly don’t have someone, you can always name a trusted advisor as Executor. Just know that these options will cost your estate, leaving less in assets for your inheritors (although, any Executor, even a friend or family member, is generally entitled to compensation as well).

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