How to choose an executor for your estate

Creating an estate plan requires one of the most important steps, which is naming an executor of your will. The selection is crucial because this person or persons will be responsible for collecting your assets and carrying out your wishes as outlined in your plan. By naming an executor and successors in your will, you avoid having the court appoint one to administer your estate according to New York laws.

What does an executor do?

Simply put, an executor is a person who manages or executes the estate, including dealing with the probate courts, paying debts, and distributing the assets as written in the will. It can be a big job since settling an estate can take over a year on average.

What to look for when choosing an executor

Choosing an executor can be challenging. They must be highly organized and able to execute your estate along with their own personal and professional responsibilities. The executor must be able to sell off assets if needed, pay your creditors, and execute any legal matters to settle your estate. As such, you should have an open and honest conversation with the person you select to ensure they are able and willing to commit to this role.


First and foremost, you must have complete trust in the person you name as executor. A trustworthy executor can be the voice of authority and reason, limiting any disagreements and challenges while settling your estate.

Financially stability

Your executor is responsible for writing checks and managing your finances, so it is vital to protect your estate by choosing a financially prudent and stable individual. If your executor is not financially stable or has a bankruptcy on their record, they may not be able to be bonded, which is often a requirement by the courts, particularly in larger estates.

Calm and firm demeanor

Understandably, emotions tend to run high after the passing of a loved one. The right executor will be able to show empathy and support while diffusing any unnecessary arguments between beneficiaries so the estate execution can continue as planned.

Make your choice known

If you have beneficiaries or family members that may be upset or surprised by your choice of executor, it is best to let them know once you have made your decision. This discussion can help them understand your reasoning and avoid lengthy and needless disputes when settling your affairs.

FindLaw Network