Choosing an Executor: Not Just a Formality

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Choosing an Executor: Not Just a Formality

Estate planning is a deeply personal process that requires a great deal of consideration and soul searching. Unfortunately, many people come into the process treating one particularly important decision as a foregone conclusion: the selection of an executor. This may be among the most important choices a person makes during the estate planning process. So, even if you strongly believe you already know who you want your executor to be, it may be worth a second look.

The choice of an executor is one that many people make with little thought for the practical implications. The spouse, a child, a sibling or a close friend are common choices. Because most people do not understand everything that is involved with being an executor, they think that any reasonably trustworthy friend or relative will do.

While trustworthiness is certainly an essential requirement, some other factors you should consider when choosing an executor include the following:

  • Location – Even when aided by an experienced estate administration attorney, executors usually take a fairly active role in the process. This means that a friend or relative who lives in another state or even another town may not be the best choice, regardless of how well-equipped for the job he or she may otherwise be. While it may not be necessary for out-of-state executors to actually travel to New Jersey, they often still face numerous challenges inherent in trying to manage an estate from a distance.
  • Family situation – Serving as an executor can be time consuming. Therefore, a relative who has a demanding professional or family life may not be the best choice. It is a lot to ask for a relative to take time away from family or to take additional responsibilities on top of an already stressful job. Many may shoulder the responsibility nonetheless out of a sense of obligation or duty. However, both they and the estate may suffer as a result.
  • Health – Being an executor can be stressful. As a result, a relative who has a history of health problems or who is elderly him or herself is often not the best choice. Moreover, choosing an executor of uncertain health increases the risk that he or she could die or become incapacitated while serving as executor. This can create a difficult situation.
  • Willingness – It is important to remember that an executor is not obliged to take on the responsibility simply because he or she is nominated in a will. That is why it is always wise to discuss your intentions with your preferred executor before finalizing your estate planning documents. Make sure he or she understands what is involved and why you think he or she is the best choice for the job.

Choosing the best executor is much more complex than most people think. Attorney Alec Borenstein can help you consider all the issues in Union County and Hunterdon County, New Jersey and come to a decision with confidence. Call him today at 908-236-6457 or by email at

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