Who should be the will executor for my mom?

3 answers | Last updated: Mar 15, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother has appointed my two sisters and me as will executor to her estate. Her attorney strongly advised that she should only have one executor of will and that having all three could cause problems. She is worried she would hurt someone's feelings if she had to pick only one of us. I suggested she talk to her attorney and find a solution, representative from his office or her bank? I'm not sure of the will executor's responsibilities. My two sisters are out of the state most of the year and would not be available for the sale of the house, etc.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Your mom is wrestling with a common problem. Just as she didn’t want to show favoritism among her daughters during her lifetime by consistently giving one of you the biggest piece of pie or the latest curfew, she wants you to feel equal—or at least equalish—treatment coming from her after her death.

The attorney who wrote up your mom’s will is just giving out a common warning learned in law school based on the fact that after your mom’s death, all three of you executors would have to agree on every decision concerning distributing her estate. And to add another potential crimp, out of state executors in some states have to post bond before they’re allowed to serve.

That warned and written, however, your mom is still free to appoint all three of you jointly if that is her true wish.

There are a number of possible actions to take:

  • Leave the will as is, and assure your mom that the three of you will cooperate in your duties when the time requires it. While it’s not possible to guarantee this stellar behavior, of course—and the prospect of property can cause even the coziest of siblings to turn on one another—many family members are able to do just this.
  • Ask your mom to consider dividing up her estate planning duties—perhaps appointing one of you as executor of her will, another as the agent in her power of attorney for healthcare, another as her agent in a power of attorney for finances.
  • Your mom could also consider appointing a third person—a family friend or an institutional party as you suggest—to serve as the executor, removing the issue from the siblings’ plates.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

I thought that executors simply carried out the will - there aren't that many decisions. Executors cannot override what is in the will, after all.

Geo2015 answered...

This is one of the biggest mistakes most estates make, in my opinion – 99% of the time putting a totally inexperienced person in the role of executor. Believe me, inexperienced executors, which they almost always are, tend to miss deadlines, and make numerous serious errors along the way, generally during the probate process.

This type of executor tends to also keep the probate attorney or estate lawyer to themselves, and often will not allow the heirs to communicate with the lawyer. This causes enormous anxiety and fear among the heirs of an estate. So they then begin to mistrust the attorney of record that they cannot get information or updates from. The attorneys stop responding to heirs’ calls and emails… and the anxiety and paranoia among heirs worsens.

An estate’s inexperienced executor, plus the estate attorney usually, that many heirs feel they can’t count on, and that they have little or no confidence in, and can’t communicate with, causes so many problems, usually after probate has been filed, that many heirs waiting for their inheritance become so paranoid and anxious for the safety of their inheritance assets and cash, that many heirs start looking around for the money to hire their own personal attorney, to help protect their assets – if they can’t afford their own lawyer… if they don’t have strong enough credit to borrow from a bank or enough savings to hire their an expensive estate lawyer.

So… the interesting thing is that many heirs in that position, if their cash flow is weak, and their savings is even weaker, will – to protect their assets, or to make themselves feel less anxious or depressed with their unstable estate situation, or sometimes just to deal with an emergency or some such urgent need for immediate funds – as I say, they will decide to get an immediate, fast loan on inheritance, by borrowing against their inheritance which is in probate or trust…. And so they’ll frequently fill out an inheritance advance, or probate advance, or probate loan application – as speedily as possible with one of more well known, trusted inheritance loan companies or inheritance advance companies – for fast probate cash, with a 72-hour probate loan, or 48 hour inheritance loan advance, probate advance, estate loan, or estate loan, inheritance advance cash assignment.

Just to explain this sort of inheritance advance option, should there be anyone out there reading this, that actually need such a financial solution at the moment… Those heirs will start researching large estate loans or estate advances, or small inheritance loans, large or small inheritance advances or inheritance advance loans, probate loans, or probate real estate loans right away after a decedent has died — after looking into inheritance advance rates, or inheritance loan fees for good measure, along with submitting inheritance cash advance, probate loan, or probate cash advance applications to several various online probate loan and trust inheritance loan companies that strictly provide loans on inheritance, inheritance loan advances, probate cash advance funds, inheritance loans in advance, and loans against inheritance, from well respected inheritance loan companies like www.heiradvance.com, or maybe www.inheritancenow.com, or a similar probate loan company like www.inheritanceadvance.com. At least the heirs with some extra probate cash in their pocket, and possibly their own hot-shot attorney to lessen some of the anxiety and fear in the air, will help calm down the mood among the heirs, and will frequently force an inexperienced executor or uncooperative attorney mind their Ps and Qs, so to speak. It affects everyone’s behavior in a positive way, and things tend to go better all the way around in most cases like this.