In their right mind, that is, not judged incapacitated by a court, anyone can be an executor of a will. If you don't have any responsible friends or family members, you can appoint an attorney, accountant, bank, or trust company as executor. However, these parties generally charge additional fees for their own services or demand higher payments than a friend or family member. If you die without a will or the person named in the will cannot act as executor, the probate court will choose an executor. State law dictates who has priority to serve.
Usually, the surviving spouse has the first priority, followed by the children. If there is no spouse or children, other family members can be chosen. If more than one person has priority and the heirs cannot agree on who should serve, then the court will decide. If you don't have surviving family members or friends, you can hire a bank, trust company, CPA, corporate trustee, or probate law firm. Many people choose their spouse or civil partner, or children, to be executors.
At least one of your executors must be over 18 years of age at the time of applying for legalization. A person under the age of 18 may be named executor in a will, but he will not have the right to request succession until he or she turns 18. Depending on the value of your estate and the laws of your state, the executor will most likely act under judicial supervision. This can be done by explicitly naming the person (“If my husband is unable to serve, I name my friend Liza Cortez”) or by creating a mechanism in his will (“All my children who are at least 30 years old at the time of my death will serve as successor co-executors”). The executor has a legal obligation to comply with the wishes of the deceased and act in the interest of the deceased. If the will is complex, or if significant time is required in court, an executor may want to hire an estate attorney to assist in the management of the estate, also at the expense of the estate. The job of an executor is to secure the assets of the estate and then distribute them according to the wishes of the deceased person. One of the biggest drawbacks of being an executor is the large amount of time it takes to properly manage responsibilities. The most common case where appointing one of your children as executor is problematic arises when one of your children lives with you. The executor can be almost anyone, but they are generally an attorney, accountant, or family member, with the only restriction being that they must be 18 years of age or older and have no prior felony convictions.
By appointing someone else to be an executor with your husband, wife, or partner, you can at least take the burden of paperwork off you. The executor must estimate the value of the estate using the value of the date of death or the alternative valuation date as provided in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Family members don't always charge for their services as executors of an estate but you will pay a fee to hire a professional for this service. The executor must also ensure that all of the deceased's debts including taxes are paid.