Most executors don’t need special financial or legal knowledge; most people name their spouse or an adult child. Common sense, conscientiousness, and honesty are the main requirements. An executor who needs help can hire lawyers, accountants, or other experts, and pay them from the assets of the estate.
The person you choose should be honest, organized, and good at communicating with people. If possible, name someone who lives nearby and who is familiar with your financial matters; that will make it easier to do chores like collecting mail and finding important records and papers.
Many people select someone who will inherit a substantial amount of their property. This makes sense because such a person is likely to do a conscientious job of managing your affairs after your death. He or she may also know where your records are kept and understand why you want your property left as you have directed.
Legally, you can name anyone you want to be your executor. In most states, the only people who can’t serve as executors are children under 18 or convicted felons. Some states do, however, impose restrictions on out-of-state executors. For example, a few require that an out-of-state executor be a relative or a primary beneficiary under your will. And some states require that a nonresident executor obtain a bond (an insurance policy that protects your beneficiaries in the event of the executor’s wrongful use of your estate’s property) or name an in-state resident to act as the estate’s representative.
No matter who you pick, make sure the person is willing to do the job. Discuss it together before you finalize your will. When it comes time, however, an executor can accept or decline the responsibility. And someone who agrees to serve can resign at any time. If the will named an alternate executor, that person will take over. If not, the court will appoint someone to step in.