Choosing an Executor

By Steve Shane, Offit Kurman 

Question: How do I choose the right executor to manage my estate?

Answer: Administering an estate can be a difficult and frustrating process. There are many tasks that an executor will have to complete – paying taxes, handling bills, protecting property, keeping track of investments and of course fulfilling court requirements. While many executors hire legal counsel to assist them with the process, it is important to find an executor who is up to the task. Here are a few considerations:

  1. You will want to find an individual who is in good financial shape. Not having creditor or financial problems is important. Moreover, individuals with a criminal record will have trouble getting the court appointment.
  2. An executor should be a responsible person. Even with good legal advice, the person appointed as executor still needs to take charge of the matter. The executor is the person who is ultimately responsible to answer to the estate beneficiaries.
  3. For the most part, I find that close family members tend to serve as executors (as opposed to non-family members). But if your relationship with the family member is not particularly strong, it may be best to avoid a family squabble by appointing a non-family member. In this case, it may be best to designate an outside executor who is independent and has no conflicts of interest. Of course, many family members will not ask for compensation from the estate (but an independent executor will).
  4. Some clients like to name more than one executor to serve at a time. If two executors are serving, there must be unanimous agreement. In such case, court documents will require signatures of both executors. This might be difficult if the individuals live far apart.

Comment: You should revise this choice every 5-10 years to be sure the individual(s) you choose is/are the right one(s).


Steve Shane

Steve Shane

Offit Kurman, more than 10 offices throughout the United States
T: +1 240 507 1725
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Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.

Offit Kurman is a dynamic full-service law firm. As trusted legal advisors, they help clients to maximise and protect their business value and individual wealth. They strive to maintain clients’ trust in every interaction, furthering their objectives and helping them to achieve their goals in an efficient manner.


Published: July 2018 l Photo: trongnguyen - Fotolia.com

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