Choosing an Executor

June 20, 2023

By cdarmody on June 20, 2023

One of the most basic decisions to make when creating a last will and testament is naming your executor and backup executor. The executor role, sometimes known as a personal representative, is a powerful position with responsibilities that can help calmly and peaceably navigate the estate settlement process or prompt strong emotions and even litigation.

The executor of your estate will be responsible for managing your assets, paying your debts, and distributing your property according to your wishes after you die. Here are some points to consider when looking for the right person:

  • Consider the person's qualifications. An executor should be trustworthy, responsible, and capable of managing financial affairs. The person you choose should have a good understanding of financial matters, as well as the ability to work with lawyers, accountants, and other professionals.
  • Evaluate the person's availability. An executor should be available to manage your estate after you die. If the person you are considering lives far away or has a demanding job, these circumstances may impact their ability to see through the process efficiently and effectively.
  • Assess the person's relationship to your beneficiaries. An executor should be impartial and able to make decisions in the best interests of your beneficiaries. If the person you are considering has a close relationship with one of your beneficiaries, they may not be the best choice.
  • Consider the person's age and health. Despite your best planning efforts, it may take significant time and energy to settle your estate. An executor should be able to manage your estate for an extended period of time, if necessary. 
  • Talk to the person. Before naming someone as your executor, it is important to talk to them about their willingness to serve in this role. Make sure they understand the responsibilities involved. Talking through expectations in advance helps ensure your wishes will be met and that your executor doesn’t face any surprises upon your passing.
  • Consider naming a backup executor. It’s a good idea to name a backup executor in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve. All the considerations for choosing an executor are also applicable when selecting a backup executor.

While estate planning can be an emotional and complex process, taking the time to do it thoughtfully and intentionally is an investment in those you love and the legacy you want to leave behind. An estate planning attorney can provide important guidance on selecting an executor and other estate planning matters. If you need help getting started or updating your plans, talk to your RMB advisor today.


The opinions and analyses expressed in the article are based on RMB Capital Management, LLC's ("RMB Capital") research and professional experience. The information and data in this article do not constitute legal, tax, accounting, investment or other professional advice. Investors should consult with their trusted professionals prior to taking any action.

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