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The Executor Conundrum

Updated: Dec 25, 2023

The person who will serve as the executor of your estate has a big responsibility. The process of serving as executor can be both time-consuming and emotionally draining. These challenges underscore the importance of choosing the right person for the job. In many cases (but not all), the right person for the job is a family member. If you are starting to think about whom to name as the executor of your estate, what should you keep in mind as you weigh your options?

Consider the Time Commitment

Serving as executor and settling an estate is no swift endeavor. It can take several months to years, depending on how complex the estate is. Executors often find themselves dedicating significant hours to the role. This work includes things like managing the estate financials and keeping heirs informed.

Don't Underestimate the Importance of Experience

Many executors may not have served as executor before, and this lack of familiarity with the role can contribute to delays and complications in the execution process.

Assess the Impact on Family Relationships

Appointing a family member as an executor works in some families, but in others, it can strain relationships due to the delicate balance between familial ties and professional responsibilities.

Naming a Neutral Third Party: An Option Worth Considering

For a growing number of people, a neutral third-party executor is an option worth considering. A neutral third-party executor acts as a professional intermediary, offering an alternative that alleviates the burdens often associated with appointing family or friends. Working with a neutral third-party administrator facilitates open communication and cooperation among family members, ultimately fostering stronger relationships during an emotionally challenging time. The goal is to preserve familial bonds and allow family and friends to support each other without the added stress of estate administration.

If naming a neutral third-party executor sounds like it might work for you, look for a provider that is:

  1. Willing to get to know you and your estate personally

  2. Focused on seamless administration of your estate

  3. Willing to work with family members and your estate attorney to achieve the fastest possible resolution

  4. Focused on performing their duties efficiently and accurately.

Ultimately, your choice of executor should give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your estate will be settled without unnecessary burdens, drama, or delay.

Does the executor of an estate always have to be a family member? Are there other options?

Mollie Lacher is the founder of Sunny Care Services, a Nashville-based planning and concierge service for families that have lost a loved one. Contact Mollie at 615.358.8520 or or visit

1 Comment

Choosing an estate executor is a significant decision, as this person will bear a considerable responsibility. The role can be demanding and emotionally taxing. While a family member is often a suitable candidate, it's not always the case. When making your choice, consider the time commitments and the willingness to dedicate a substantial amount of time to the role.

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