When you pass away, the instructions you leave behind in your last will are administered by whomever you choose as the executor. The executor’s responsible for ensuring that the beneficiaries you’ve specified will receive the assets in your estate.
Naming an executor is an integral part of estate planning. But you can’t just pick anyone to serve as executor. And while it’s challenging enough to think of whom to serve as the executor of your will, experts recommend that you also name an alternate executor.
Why should you name an alternative executor?
There are several reasons why you’ll need an alternate executor. They include:
- Death: Your primary choice for an executor may die before you do or even at the same time as you.
- Incapacitation: The executor might somehow become mentally incapable of serving their role.
- Illness: Severe medical conditions could disable an executor from performing their duties.
- Divorce: If you named your spouse as executor of your estate but later filed for divorce, your former partner loses their right to be an executor.
- Crime: If your executor gets a felony conviction, they’re prohibited from serving their role unless they’ve been pardoned or their civil rights were restored.
- Conflict of interest: According to state law, a Texas probate court may reject an executor if it finds a conflict of interest.
- Passing over: Executors are not legally bound to see through their duties. Your first choice as an executor might opt to pass over their responsibility – perhaps they have other responsibilities to look after and can’t have another one, or they plan to move out of the country.
If you don’t have an alternate executor named when the primary executor can’t perform their duties, a probate court will appoint someone to take the role.
Picking an alternate executor
Typically, you could pick among your relatives, your spouse, one of your adult children or a close friend to serve as an executor for your estate. But you can also consider appointing someone outside your circle of family and friends who can do the role professionally. A lawyer experienced in probate law might be able to serve as an excellent alternate executor if your primary choice can’t perform for any reason. And even if nothing happens to your primary executor, having a lawyer would be helpful since they can advise your executor on handling and protecting your estate.