Should You Serve as Executor of an Estate?


After a loved one has passed away, discovering that you’ve been named executor of his or her estate can bring about mixed emotions. Some people feel honored and think that the process of settling a loved one’s affairs can be therapeutic, but others worry whether they're up to the challenge.

The amount of time required to serve as executor of an estate depends on several variables. If the person who has asked you to serve as executor of his or her estate has only a few assets and no estate tax issues, the time commitment is minimal. There is much less work involved if you've already been assisting with managing someone’s finances, such as helping to oversee an elderly relative’s finances to make sure bills are paid each month.

Travel time is another factor to consider as well. If you do not live nearby, it may be difficult or expensive for you to serve as executor.

If you've been asked to serve as executor for a complex estate or one in which you'll need to travel to perform your duties, you should discuss what payment you’ll be legally allowed to receive for your services. How the task will interfere with other commitments, such as your obligation to your employer and the needs of your children, should also be considered.

Sometimes, people will appoint two co-executors in order to reduce the burden the task places on one person. This is a smart move as long as the two co-executors can work well together. If the co-executor is a person you can’t stand, such as a sibling you’ve bickered with since childhood, working together may prove more difficult than going it alone.

Every will is required to name an alternate executor. If you decline the responsibility of serving as executor of the estate, or you decide halfway through the process that you're not up to the task, the alternate must take over. If there is a problem with the person named as alternate handling the estate, someone needs to take over the job informally or begin probate court proceedings to ask the court to take over the task.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at if you are in need of assistance with an estate planning issue. Our experienced attorneys can help ensure that your interests are protected no matter what the future holds.