E221 Will My Executor Serve?

When deciding whether or not to appoint me as their executor, many Solo Agers have asked: “Are you bound by contract to actually be my executor after I die? Is it guaranteed? If not, then what’s the point of researching and vetting and choosing you as my executor?”

Nomination as Executor

Naming me (or anyone) as executor in your Last Will and Testament is a nomination, not an actual appointment or contract.

Nomination as Executor

Why doesn’t the law make the appointment of an executor binding? Because a lot can and will happen between now and when you die.

For example, your executor could die, they could become a felon (felons are not legally be allowed to be the executor), or they could move out of country. Let’s say you name your younger sister, who is a career woman and a go-getter. But in the time between writing your will and when you actually die, she could have personal or family duties which leave her with no time to take on the burden of being an executor. Or maybe your executor just simply doesn’t want to do it.

Perhaps you’re a Solo Ager and you appoint your best friend, then you have a falling-out and no longer communicate. In that case, they most likely will not want to serve as your executor.

That’s why you should have a backup (or alternate) executor, and that is why it is important to understand that it is a nomination and not an actual contract. There is a large time gap between nomination and actual service that no one can predict.

Can an executor decline to act?


Can an executor decline to act?Yes, so choose someone most likely to accept (and will most likely do a good job carrying out their duties as executor, of course). You can’t guarantee that anyone, even a bank or a professional executor, like myself, will accept.

Who is most likely going to accept and who is most likely to decline? Some factors in making that decision are:

  1. Age – you should choose to nominate someone who will outlive you or at least be able-bodied after you pass. Choosing an executor that is much older than you now, could be problematic.
  2. Time – someone who has time, such as someone who will be retired or a professional executor.
  3. Ability – professional executors are familiar with banks, brokerages, real estate, and everything needed to administer an estate. Most lay people are not familiar with the process, and struggle carrying out their duties. As we’ve discussed before, being an executor is hard work.

It’s important to remember that choosing an executor is not an easy process, and a lot of thought should go into it.

So far, everyone who’s asked this question has been satisfied and continued on to name me their executor. Let me know if you have more questions in the comments or by email, and I’d be happy to answer them.

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