Q: I have created and revised my wills in the past. The issue is that, as a single person, I'm having trouble finding an executor for my will. I don't trust my sister to carry out my instructions and, sadly, I also don't believe my parents would be good either. Other than friends, are there any other options for establishing an executor for your will? I want to make sure I get someone who will carry out my instructions without bias, self-interest, greed or questions. If there aren't any options, what would you suggest given the scenario?
I commend you for your foresight in both creating and updating your will. Your advance planning now will likely save your intended beneficiaries time, confusion and angst in the future. As you believe your sister or parents might not be appropriate executors for your will, you still need to choose someone whom you can trust to carry out your wishes. I recommend making sure your selection is amenable to the designation in advance, as this can be a time consuming responsibility.
You have ruled out friends and business associates, so I suggest a reputable lawyer or accountant would be the best solution for you. If your will is complex, there is the added benefit of those professionals’ familiarity with tax, probate and business administration issues. As you are aware, the executor must satisfy any debts owing from your estate, administer appropriate tax filings and estate returns and ensure that your asset distribution plan is followed to the extent most feasible. And while a family member might agree to administer your estate without taking a fee, an executor, in particular when a professional is so designated, is entitled to and will expect to be paid for their services. I suggest you address the parameters of that compensation at the time the executor is designated.
If you still want someone closer to you involved, you can designate co-executors (such as your family member/friend/business associate) and the lawyer/accountant. Finally, I also suggest choosing an alternate executor so that your probate can proceed more smoothly in the event your original executor appointment (if not co-executors) is unable to act as an executor at your death. While a probate court in the absence of an executor may choose an administrator for your estate, this of course lessens your control over ensuring that your wishes are followed as closely as possible.
DISCLAIMER: This publication is distributed with the understanding that it does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney/client relationship by way of any information contained herein. The information provided is for general purposes only, as readers are advised to consult with a qualified lawyer regarding the specifics of their particular circumstances.
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