The executor of an estate is the person chosen to represent the deceased individual through the probate process. Ideally, the party chosen to serve in this role will be responsible and trustworthy. This means that he or she will be responsive to the needs of other parties. Accountants, attorneys or banks can serve as an executor in addition to family members and friends.
It is generally a good idea to name someone who is younger than the testator. This is important because a will could be many years or decades old when a person passes. However, there is no legal requirement to take such a step. Furthermore, there is no requirement that an executor lives in the same town or state as the person creating the will. If necessary, an executor can hire other parties to supervise the transfer or liquidation of assets.
However, people who live outside of the United States may not be able to serve in such a capacity. The same is true of individuals who have a criminal past. The person or entity chosen to be an executor should not have any conflicts with other family members or beneficiaries of the estate. Finally, when choosing an executor, it is in a person's best interest to find someone who can get bonded and is emotionally stable.
A valid will and the right executor are generally seen as important parts of an estate plan. When done properly, they allow a person to retain control over how his or her assets are transferred and to whom they are dispersed. An attorney with experience in estate administration and probate may be able to help craft a will or other plan documents or review those that are already in place. If necessary, a lawyer may also guide an estate through probate.