Deciding who to name as the executor of your estate is a challenge for everyone. There are situations where you may need to consider someone who is not related by blood or marriage.
There are three key factors to look for when considering who should be the executor or personal representative of your estate: one, the ability and personality to do the necessary tasks, even if they are unpopular; two, a willingness to be your personal representative and three, someone who knows you and your situation very well. If no family member meets these criteria, according to The Brainerd Dispatch’s article, “How to find an estate plan executor outside of your immediate family,” you may need to look to your extended family or outside of the family. You do have options.
Many experienced estate planning lawyers say that it's typically best to find an individual to serve as the personal representative of your estate. If you can’t think of any readily obvious choices that you believe would be a good fit, expand your thinking. Perhaps there is an adult grandchild who might be a possibility. You might also have a good relationship with the adult child of a close friend who’d be able to carry out the tasks of personal representative.
Folks are typically very willing to help if asked. However, make sure that it’s not just anyone, but someone with some financial or legal knowledge and who is familiar with your wishes, even if they're not a member of your immediate family. They should also not be afraid to seek help from an experienced estate planning attorney.
There are some alternatives to working with an individual. If finding an individual you trust and is willing and able to serve as an personal representative for your estate is impossible, then you may consider engaging a third party to serve as your personal representative.
A financial advisor probably won’t be able to serve as the personal representative of your estate, due to his or her potential conflict of interest. However, you may be able to hire an experienced estate planning attorney. At the very least, he or she may have some relevant recommendations.
Once you have selected a personal representative, the next step is to devote the necessary time to review the details of your estate plan and your financial situation. Make sure that the personal representative understands your wishes and knows where important documents can be found. Whether the personal representative is your spouse or your best friend, they will appreciate being prepared when the time comes to settle your estate.
Reference: Brainerd (MN) Dispatch (December 23, 2016) “How to find an estate plan executor outside of your immediate family”