What If My Designated Executor Cannot Serve?
First, a definition: A designated executor refers to the individual you have selected who is therefore charged with the responsibility of finalizing your estate.
Those responsibilities can include collecting all the person’s assets, settling any outstanding debts, and distributing the assets according to the wishes and directions specified in your will.
This is obviously a big responsibility, which means certain prerequisites have to be met by the person named as the executor. To be a designated executor in Pennsylvania, the individual named has to be at least 18 years old, deemed fit to serve, and cannot serve as an agent to a party outside the U.S.
Since the designated executor has an important job, you need to take care in naming the individual you feel is best qualified to accurately relay the wishes and directions of your estate plan. You will want someone organized, ethical, and willing and able to take on the job. It doesn’t hurt if they are also financial savvy.
So What Can Disqualify a Designated Executor from Service?
A designated executor can be deemed unfit to serve by a variety of criteria. For example, it may be noted that the selected person may be of questionable character due to a criminal record or ongoing criminal investigation. Or it could be they are neglecting their executor duties or somehow interfering with the process of settling the estate. On the other hand, an executor can also be deemed unfit due to being in poor physical or mental health, being out of the country, or not able to be located.
Whatever the reasons, should the executor be unable to perform their duties, the interested parties can petition the court to remove the unfit person as the executor. The court will then have to take multiple factors into consideration, including what the estate will need to be properly administered and how the beneficiaries will be impacted by the court’s decision.
If a person cannot perform the executor duties due to physical or mental incapacitation, the court will also have to consider whether the person will recover in time to sufficiently perform their executor duties. If they cannot, the court will administer a general order to name a new person as the permanent executor.
As with most aspects of estate planning, the key to effectively managing any designated executor challenge begins with taking the time to make an estate plan. Executors can become unreliable and asset situations can change, but proper planning and monitoring of your plan can help you successfully maneuver these challenges and ensure your assets get to your beneficiaries.
To learn more about how a Johnstown estate planning attorney can help you prepare for your future, contact the Hill Group LLC today.