We often get hired when someone has died, but no one wants to be the executor. Sometimes there was a will with nominated executors who don’t want to serve. Other times there was no will, but none of the next of kin want to do the job. So they hire us as the professional executor.
Being executor is too much work
Most folks who’ve been an executor before avoid doing it again. They know first-hand how time-consuming it can be. Generally, we’re referring to people other than surviving spouse or children. The job is a bit easier for surviving spouse or children, because there is a lot of shared knowledge and possibly even shared assets.
Other relatives or friends who have served as an executor before know how time-consuming it can be. Or perhaps they’ve heard enough horror stories from friends. (Plus, if you’ve heard our prior podcasts, you know how difficult it can be!).
Too old to be executor
Some nominated executors simply feel that they are too old to be an executor. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re incompetent. Perhaps they were nominated many years ago when they were younger, but now they know that being an executor can be stressful. Perhaps now they are used to low-stress retirement life, and they don’t need any new stress. No need to increase that blood-pressure medication!
Also, in terms of logistics, being an executor requires a lot of legwork, doing things in person, running around town for real estate, waiting in line at banks, going to the courthouse, etc. This may not seem appealing when you expected to relax in your old age. There are also tasks that can be done electronically, and an older person may not be very tech-savvy.
Can I be estate executor if I live far away?
The executor may live out of state or abroad, but it could cause some issues. The main issue is that the executor may be unfamiliar with local customs and laws.
For example, if you are an executor residing in Colorado for a New York estate, you will be bewildered by how NYC co-ops work
Perhaps an executor from Europe assumes that wiring funds to the heirs works best. You would be shocked to find out that wiring could be a huge mistake.
For the same reasons as an older executor, there’s too much legwork to get done from afar. The number of flights alone would be cost-prohibitive and a pain. Unfortunately, many probate documents need original, wet signatures. We have sent documents overseas, and even one document in one envelope can cost $150!
So, if neither you nor your family members want to be someone’s executor, remember that there are folks like us out there who can handle it. Declining to serve as an executor is very common, and there is no reason to feel guilty about it. You might be better off remembering your loved one fondly instead of remembering the frustrating estate work.
If you fit into the criteria above, please check out my book “How to Hire an Executor” available on Amazon.
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