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How to Choose an Executor

Judith Trentman Wilson, Attorney at Law, P.C. Jan. 8, 2020

There are few legal restrictions on who can serve as the executor of an estate in Illinois. According to Kiplinger, an executor must be at least 18 years old and must gain the approval of the court. People with a history of a felony conviction are unlikely to receive the court’s approval, as are non-U.S. citizens who live overseas.

The law allows family members to serve as the executor of the estate, but it does not require it. Forbes Magazine argues that a family member may not necessarily be the best choice. Due to the hard work and responsibility involved, as well as the sometimes volatile nature of family relationships, it may be a better idea to choose an executor from outside the family. Nevertheless, it can be helpful if the executor is familiar with the family situation.

While an executor has to be at least 18 years old, it is usually desirable to choose someone with more life experience than the typical teenager has had. At the same time, it is a good idea to balance maturity with the reasonable expectation that the executor will outlive the testator.

The duties of an executor can be meticulous and exacting, so it is important to choose someone who can pay attention to detail. It is helpful to choose an executor who already has experience working with financial professionals. While there is no residency requirement per se, the court has the final say over who serves as executor, and it may be less likely to approve someone who lives far away from its jurisdiction.

When choosing an executor for one’s estate, perhaps the most important quality to look for is the ability to handle heavy responsibilities.