Executor, executrix, or personal representative are the names used to describe the person who will be in charge of your estate and follow the directions in your last will and testament. That person doesn’t have to be a family member.
This is often a surprise to people, who think an adult child, spouse, or sibling is the only person who can take on this responsibility. This isn’t true. There’s no requirement that a relative be named to be the executor of your estate— it can be anyone you wish.
There are some requirements, which vary from state to state. In Massachusetts, the person has to be at least 18 years old and of sound mind —that is, not judged incapacitated by a court.
What are your options for choosing an executor of your estate? Some people prefer an immediate family member. Other people choose a distant relative, thinking they’ll be more objective and not be affected by any family disagreements. Whomever you select, contact them to be sure they’ll accept the responsibility.
An alternative is a trusted friend, as long as they meet the criteria noted above. Another option is an institution that holds trust powers, such as a bank’s trust department. Some estate planning law firms serve clients in this role. We do offer this service at The Heritage Law Center. Using a professional Massachusetts estate planning attorney may be more expensive initially, but it provides experienced and impartial management of your estate and could help avoid family feuds and possible litigation.
One final note: Don’t delay creating an estate plan because you can’t decide who should be the executor of your estate. Selecting someone for this role isn’t always an easy or obvious choice, but we can help you make the decision. Not having an estate plan is far worse than not knowing who to name as your executor.
Contact us today to schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation. As an experienced Massachusetts estate planning attorney, I can guide you step-by-step to set up an estate plan that will give you incredible peace of mind once it’s in place.