Choosing an executor is an important part of the estate planning process. The person you choose as your executor will be responsible for handling your estate after you pass away, so it is important that you choose the best person for the job.
Who can serve as executor?
Under Pennsylvania law, there are a few major requirements for a person to serve as an executor. These requirements include:
- Must be 18 years of age or older
- Must be of sound mind
- Must be a United States resident
- Must not have been charged with voluntary manslaughter or homicide
- Must be authorized to act as a fiduciary
While these are the only legal requirements, you should consider several other factors when choosing an executor. If you have someone in mind, ask yourself:
- Is this person trustworthy and honest?
- Is this person responsible?
- Will this person respect your wishes, even if they do not agree with you?
- Is this person able to handle the responsibilities that come with being an executor (preparing tax returns, paying debts, contacting beneficiaries, etc.)?
- Is this person someone your beneficiaries will trust?
- Is this person willing to take on this role?
- Will this person put their personal interests aside for the best interest of the estate and your beneficiaries?
Many people choose a friend or family member to act as their executor. However, just because you have a close relationship with someone, does not mean they are the best person for the job. It may be in your best interest to choose a bank or other neutral third party instead of someone in your life.
If you have chosen an executor, you may also want to choose a second person to serve as executor in case your initial choice is unavailable or unwilling to act as executor when the time comes. Once you have made your choices, you should name them in your will and move forward with the estate planning process.