When choosing an executor, you can name an individual or a professional (e.g., an attorney or a bank trust department) to handle your affairs.
A family member or close friend has knowledge of your affairs and would take a personal interest in the settlement of your estate and the well-being of your beneficiaries. However, he or she may not be the best choice. Serving as an executor is a time consuming and stressful task. Some of the executor’s duties are very demanding: preparing and filing tax returns, obtaining appraisals, making an accurate accounting, and these are things best left to professionals. By naming a professional to manage your affairs, you gain some permanence. A professional executor is unlikely to refuse to serve or to resign. In addition, it may be easier to hold a professional executor financially accountable for mismanagement than a nonprofessional. A professional who makes money from managing estates will have the investment expertise as well as the legal, tax, accounting, and computer abilities to do the job well and efficiently. You also gain some impartiality by having a professional manage your affairs. A professional executor should be more impartial to your beneficiaries or heirs. You also reduce the risk that your executor will make hardship loans to friends. However, by nominating a professional, you lose that personal touch from a friend or a relative who is not managing any other estates.
In general, state laws require that the person who manages your affairs be an adult U.S. citizen. Additionally, your executor cannot be a convicted felon. State laws may also give special powers to your executor, or spell out what your executor can or cannot do. You can also use your will to grant your executor any special powers needed to carry out the instructions in your will.