For the most part, you're free to choose virtually anyone that you want to act as executor of your estate – within certain limits, of course. As long as your choice resides within these limits, the court is obliged to follow your preference in most cases. Generally speaking, the limits are these: you may not appoint a minor, an incompetent person or, in many states, a convicted criminal. Otherwise, the appointment will likely not be rejected even though the person is of extreme age, or suffering from a handicap, or has no business experience, is a heavy drinker, or is saddled with any other "condition" or perceived "fault." Basically speaking, what this means is that the law recognizes your right to select any competent person you want and doesn't demand a "high standard" for the position. This is not to say, however, that a court would approve an appointment that would obviously lead to nothing but trouble; but, in general, it would give preference to your selection.

It must be remembered that – apart from court approval – one other approval is vital to your selection of an executor – that of the proposed executor himself (or herself). It's therefore a good idea to discuss the matter beforehand with the person you choose to be sure that he or she is willing to accept the appointment. It's a difficult task, and your appointee has the right to decline the assignment after your death. Since there is this right to refuse, as well as the possibility of your original selection dying before you or becoming ill, you should always name at least one successor executor.

Furthermore, you're also free to make the appointment conditional upon some other occurrence, such as the attainment of a certain age, completion of college, being a resident of your state, etc. Nonresidents of your state are generally acceptable in most locations (provided, of course, that they meet the other qualifications), though appointing a nonresident may not necessarily be the best decision to make. For example, there are practical problems that a nonresident would face in dealing with property and creditors in another state, appearing in court (if necessary), signing documents for the court, etc. Also, there may be additional costs because when a nonresident is appointed, he or she must in turn appoint a resident "agent" in the local state for legal purposes. Furthermore, the estate will incur even more expenses in paying for the nonresident s travel to and from the local state to attend to the estate administration. If at all possible, therefore, selections are at the very least more efficient if kept locally.

Practically speaking, one of the first issues to consider when selecting an executor is whether you should choose a professional (an attorney or a bank, for example) or a nonprofessional (your spouse, brother-in-law, next-door neighbor, etc.). To a great extent, this depends upon the size and nature of your estate. For instance, if the estate is of small- to moderate size (in other words, there'll be no complicated tax issues involved) and very liquid (your home, savings, and investments), and if you don't anticipate any family disputes, it should be perfectly acceptable to have a family member, such as your spouse or an adult child, act as executor of your estate. If, on the other hand, you do anticipate family disputes in the settlement of your estate (even though they may only be minor ones), you should probably consider selecting an independent executor – not necessarily a professional, but at least someone outside of the immediate family.

If your estate is somewhat more extensive, such as one that includes income-producing real estate, out-of-state property, a closely-held business or anything else that will require a degree of expertise in handling, or if the estate is simply very large, then you should seriously consider a professional executor. If you do select a professional, keep in mind that you can also name a family member to act as co-executor with the professional. In this manner a member of the family can stay closely involved with the process of settlement as well as all the necessary decisions and elections that must be made. This, in turn, will also help to remove some or all of the mystery that often accompanies a professional's administration of an estate, which can often make family members feel "out-of-the-loop" and suspicious.

If for some reason you simply cannot come up with a logical choice, you can leave the selection up to someone else. For example, your will can say something like this: "The executor of my will shall be chosen by the senior partner of the law firm of Mine, Mine, and Allmine, but shall not be a member of that firm." But whomever you choose or whatever method you use, your selection must be clear and definite. If your will is considered to have failed to name an executor, the court will appoint one for you.

Whether the original, successor or one nominated by some other source, the executor is appointed only after notice is given to all interested parties that he or she was nominated by you and is about to be appointed by the court, if no one has a valid objection. Notice for the appointment of the executor usually accompanies and is integral to the notice for the probate of the will. As such, anyone objecting to the validity of the will automatically objects to the appointment of the executor, since there can be no executor without a will. It's quite possible, however, to consent to the allowance of the will but object to the appointment of the executor, simply by wording the objection accordingly. It must be remembered, however, that there must be some valid grounds for objection, not simply that the person isn't liked. As noted earlier, the standards for appointment of an executor are not high, so grounds for objection are somewhat limited. In other words, the person named by the testator will normally be appointed by the court, despite any lack of elevated intelligence or experience, and despite the fact that the named person may have had a less-than-amiable relationship with the heirs and beneficiaries.

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