Executor of Estate while still living

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Executor of Estate while still living

Can you be named the executor of an estate without a will? My husband’s sister
had her mother name her the executor of her estate but told us she did not have
a will. She took her Mom to a lawyer a few years before she passed away. We
saw the form where they both signed it. She did not involve my husband. So we
had to take her word for it. I just didn’t know if you could be names an executor
with out a will.

Asked on November 4, 2016 under Estate Planning, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, if there is no will, there is no executor and no ability to direct who will handle the estate (only wills can do that); instead, the court will appoint a personal representative or administrator (both terms are used) for the intestate (no will) estate. That person will likely be ether your husband or his sister, since it's generally a surviving child. The court could therefore make your sister-in-law the personal representative or administrator, but does not have to: it could select your husband, or in theory (but unlikely) a non-child. 

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