How can I choose an executor if I don’t want it to be family?


Q. I am 65 years old and considering the appropriate executor for my will. I do not consider myself as having substantial assets. I have a home loan of approximately $700,000, an investment of approximately $300,000, a paid-up property with a value of about $600,000 and other assets such as the car. Bearing in mind that the bank charges approximately 3.5% to wind down the estate and without substantial assets in my name, what advice can you give me on choosing an executor?
— Trying to plan

A. We’re glad that you’re planning ahead.

New Jersey statutes allow an executor to charge a commission of 5% on the first $200,000 of assets, 3.5% on the excess over $200,000 up to $1 million and 2% in excess of $1 million, said Catherine Romania, an estate planning attorney with Witman Stadtmauer in Florham Park.

She said depending on the nature and condition of one’s assets, and the number of and nature of beneficiaries, the job of an executor can be daunting.

“Unless you have a close relative or friend who is capable, with the assistance of professionals such as accountants and attorneys, to take on the responsibility and also willing to do so, your only choice is to name a professional to such a position,” she said.

Potential professionals include not only a bank but also your accountant or attorney, she said.

“Some professionals may be willing to enter a fee agreement and charge an hourly rate to act as an executor in lieu of a percentage of the estate,” Romania said.

In choosing an executor, you should also consider whether the beneficiaries of the estate are close family members or dependents who require immediate access to the funds, therefore needing an executor who can act more quickly and efficiently in administering your estate, Romania said.

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This story was originally published on July 5, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.