After you pass away, the executor named in your will takes over important duties like making funeral arrangements, paying off debts, selling property, and distributing your assets to heirs. Obviously, this role should be given to someone you trust who understands your values and knows how you want your property and funds handled.
Who Can Serve as Executor in New York
An executor isn’t required to already have legal or financial experience. In fact, people frequently select their spouse, adult child, or close friend. There are only four main legal limitations to the choice. An executor specifically cannot be:
- A convicted felon
- A non-resident alien
- Incompetent or lacking the capacity to serve in the role
- Under 18 years of age
Of course, there are other considerations beyond those bare minimum prerequisites that you should discuss with your attorney before writing up a letter of instruction explaining your wishes to the executor. Ideally, the executor should:
- Be responsible with their own money
- Have the free time and energy to undertake the duties, which can be extensive
- Know when to seek help from qualified professionals like an estate planning attorney or accountant
- Maintain a positive relationship with your heirs to reduce the possibility of your will being contested
- Not have a personal interest in the estate to avoid conflicts of interest
Depending on your family makeup, that last point isn’t always feasible, which is why you are in fact allowed to name a beneficiary of your will as the executor. In some cases, hiring an attorney to serve as executor is a better option if family members can’t be impartial with your estate, however.
Because no one knows what the future holds, it’s also important to name a secondary executor. Ideally, that second choice should be someone who is younger in the event your first choice has already passed away by the time your will is presented to the probate court.
Talk to an Attorney Before Making This Importance Estate Planning Choice
Crafting a last will and testament is a vital part of an overall estate planning strategy to keep your family cared for after you are gone. Be sure to consult an attorney when making decisions about who will oversee your estate, and don’t forget to update your will over time if you need to change your executor. Schedule an appointment with our top-rated attorney for help getting started.