One important function of your will is to name an executor of your estate. This is the person who oversees the probate process and ensures assets are distributed according to the terms of your will. The executor of an estate is sometimes referred to as the personal representative. 

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Choosing an Executor

The only formal requirements for an executor are that the individual is over 18 and both mentally and physically capable of performing the duties of the position. Most of the time, an executor is a spouse or an adult child, but you are free to name whomever you believe is best equipped to handle the responsibility. If you have no suitable close relatives or friends, you can choose a bank or trust company.

It is a good idea to choose an alternate person who can serve as executor if your first choice is unavailable or unwilling. However, the decision to choose multiple people to serve as co-executors should be considered carefully. There are many documents to sign throughout the process, and all executors must be able to attend these appointments—which could be logistically challenging.

Your choice of executor must be confirmed by the Circuit Court. If a family member or other heir objects, they can attempt to convince the Circuit Court to appoint someone else.

Key Duties of an Executor

Serving as executor is a big responsibility. Some of the many tasks the executor must perform include:

  • Obtain the decedent’s death certificate.
  • Locate the will and submit it to the court.
  • Find relevant paperwork related to estate assets such as insurance, investment accounts, funeral plans, bank accounts, real property, and antiques or collectibles.
  • Identify and value all probate assets.
  • Give notice to probate heirs, beneficiaries, and relatives within 30 days.
  • Hire attorneys, accountants, and other professionals who are needed to assist with estate administration.
  • Pay taxes and other debts from estate assets.
  • Defend the estate from improper claims.
  • File an inventory of the estate with the Commissioner of Accounts.
  • Distribute all remaining assets in accordance with the will.

Do You Need to Speak With a Lawyer About Estate Planning?

If you need to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer, please contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia, including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, and Suffolk.


Scott Alperin
Experienced Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney Serving Virginia Beach Area Clients Since 1994.