Who can be my executor?

Dear Mr. Premack: My husband and I are in our seventies and in poor health. We have no children. We will leave our estate to an out-of-state distant relative and to an out-of-state charity. Neither of them would be in a position to come to Texas and be executor. How do we decide on an executor? Besides the financial responsibilities, there are also the problems of cleaning out our house and disposing of our possessions in a practical manner. – SMD

Your first step should be to name your spouse as first choice for executor. It is statistically likely that you will not die in a common accident, so according to the probabilities one of you will outlive the other. The surviving spouse could inherit all the assets and act as executor. The surviving spouse may decide to simplify the estate by selling or gifting various personal effects, consolidating the finances, and even selling the house.

Still, upon the second death you need another executor. Frankly, you should consider the out-of-state relative who you are naming as an heir. Speak with that relative. If unable to act as executor, perhaps one of that relative’s children will agree to be executor (as a favor to the parent). If, knowing the personalities involved, you feel relying on the relative is unwise, then you may be able to ask your lawyer, your CPA or one of the local bank trust departments to act as executor of your estate. They will charge a substantial fee, but will professionally handle the closing out of your home and the distribution of your remaining assets in compliance with your Will.

Paul Premack is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and a Five Star Wealth Manager (Texas Monthly Magazine 2009-2013) practicing estate planning and probate law in San Antonio.

Original Publication: San Antonio Express News, May 28, 2010

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Paul Premack has been a Board Member and has served as President of the Texas Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and is a Member of the Washington Chapter of NAELA. He is *Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation as accredited by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and the ABA. He is licensed to practice law in the States of Texas and Washington and handles Estate Planning and Probate in Texas and Washington, including and Bexar County and King County Probate, Wills, Living Trusts, Durable and Medical Powers of Attorney, and Elder Law. Premack writes the legal column for the San Antonio Express News which is syndicated in other Hearst Newspapers around the USA.

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