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How to select a non-human executor for our will
Old 02-11-2012, 02:57 PM   #1
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How to select a non-human executor for our will

I'm looking for suggestions on how to select an executor for our will. I'm not looking for a space alien as the title might suggest, but as of now there are no longer any suitable relatives or friends that I would choose to saddle with the chore, so I'm thinking of an organization like The Nature Conservancy, or possibly a certain lawyer (eek!) that I kind of know but not really.
I can't believe I'm the only person who has run up against this problem - any suggestions?
Thanks.
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How to select a non-human executor for our will
Old 02-11-2012, 03:07 PM   #2
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How to select a non-human executor for our will

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Originally Posted by toofrugalformycat View Post
I'm looking for suggestions on how to select an executor for our will. I'm not looking for a space alien as the title might suggest, but as of now there are no longer any suitable relatives or friends that I would choose to saddle with the chore, so I'm thinking of an organization like The Nature Conservancy, or possibly a certain lawyer (eek!) that I kind of know but not really.
I can't believe I'm the only person who has run up against this problem - any suggestions?
Thanks.
I hate to disappoint you, but the Nature Conservancy is run by humans.

On a more serious note, I can see your problem and am interested in seeing the responses.
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Old 02-11-2012, 03:21 PM   #3
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Likely only a lawyer or a trust company will do the job. If you are talking about a donation to an organization they may be able to recommend a lawyer to do the job.
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Old 02-11-2012, 03:28 PM   #4
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I may be wrong but I think if a charity is a beneficiary in a will/trust it cannot serve as an executor/trustee due to potential conflicts of fiduciary duty. A bank might be an (expensive) option since banks never "die" instead they only merge.
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Old 02-11-2012, 03:51 PM   #5
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I can't recommend a specific lawyer, but a lawyer is what I'd use in your situation. You may need to call around to find one who is willing to do the job - a lawyer acquaintance (yes, an actual human, or at least hominid, lawyer) told us he served as executor once, and never would do it again - the amount of work, selling the real estate, dealing with relatives, etc. wasn't worth the executor's fee. So I would also be prepared to offer an extra payment/retainer.

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Old 02-11-2012, 04:32 PM   #6
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Your financial institution may offer trust services and if so will have a trust lawyer on staff or on contract. This is what I have set up. I can't provide any feedback, on how it worked out, as I haven't died yet.
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Old 02-11-2012, 04:58 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by toofrugalformycat View Post
I'm looking for suggestions on how to select an executor for our will. I'm not looking for a space alien as the title might suggest, but as of now there are no longer any suitable relatives or friends that I would choose to saddle with the chore, so I'm thinking of an organization like The Nature Conservancy, or possibly a certain lawyer (eek!) that I kind of know but not really.
I can't believe I'm the only person who has run up against this problem - any suggestions?
Thanks.
I have the same problem.

Am working on giving most stuff away so there will be little left to deal with.
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Old 02-11-2012, 05:58 PM   #8
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When we created our trust our financial planner recommended Northern Trust if we needed a trustee and no one else would do it. Something like that would be one guess.
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:14 PM   #9
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I can't believe I'm the only person who has run up against this problem - any suggestions? Thanks.
Are you saying that you don't have any human beneficiaries?

You could make one of your beneficiaries your executor, especially if they only learn of the executor duties after your death. (You don't want them to have a motive.) Otherwise I think the only choices are a trust company or a lawyer.

You might want to check with your local probate court. They have court-appointed guardians & conservators, so it's possible that they'd do the same with a will that lacks an executor. But someone would still need to haul that file out of your secure storage and get it to the probate court, and for that you'd want a lawyer.

I've read that you should choose your worst enemy as your executor. It's your final vengeance on them, and they're likely to be grumbling as they carry out your last wishes under court supervision. But it's hard to imagine that they have your beneficiary's best interest at heart.
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Old 02-12-2012, 01:53 AM   #10
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Are you saying that you don't have any human beneficiaries?
DH and I do have a few human beneficiaries, one of which is currently listed as the executor of our will.

But now that one of us has co-executed (?) a will, we know it's not fun. We want to figure out a way so that no one who cares about us, has to go through and dispose of all our miscellaneous stuff. I'd like to think we'll go through all the closets and drawers and boxes and get rid of everything but important papers, but realistically that's just not happening.

Thanks for the replies, everyone. All good ideas.

We are still investigating options. We're meeting with a lawyer soon, and if we get any more ideas from him, I'll post them here.
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Old 02-12-2012, 06:14 AM   #11
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DH and I do have a few human beneficiaries, one of which is currently listed as the executor of our will.

But now that one of us has co-executed (?) a will, we know it's not fun. We want to figure out a way so that no one who cares about us, has to go through and dispose of all our miscellaneous stuff. I'd like to think we'll go through all the closets and drawers and boxes and get rid of everything but important papers, but realistically that's just not happening.

Thanks for the replies, everyone. All good ideas.

We are still investigating options. We're meeting with a lawyer soon, and if we get any more ideas from him, I'll post them here.
This past year I was the one designated to go through the things left behind, and it was challenging even for someone who did not have much. We discussed this afterwards among family members (some). My plan now includes, in my 'key documents file" a list which designates personal belongings that have sentimental value for me and those that have financial value, along with instructions to set those aside and dispose of everything else.

This relieves the executor from having to make judgements and deal with family members for things not specifically identified in the will.
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Old 02-12-2012, 07:26 AM   #12
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The OP has a situation that somewhat mirrors our requirement for having someone else other than a friend or family member dispose of our terminal assets.

In our case, we also have the additional need to re-direct/control those assets into long-term support for our disabled son.

We approached the challenge in the following manner:

- Our (elder law) attorney (actually his firm, since we cannot depend on a single person) has documents outlining the sale and disposition of our real/personal property, along with transferring assets to an existing SNT (Special Needs Trust). BTW, our elder law attorney has seen this situation dozens of times over his long career. You would be surprised to know the great number of folks that do not have friends/relatives willing or able to take over this responsibility. Not all lawyers can do this work; we interviewed a few until we came up with somebody who knew and understood our personal needs, based upon his long association with similar cases/circumstances. Remember, the first meeting with a lawyer (usually about an hour) does not cost you a cent. If it does? I would say bypass them. You only start to pay once you find somebody or a practice that can meet your needs and you feel comfortable with them.

- The SNT is managed by a local investment firm and is responsible for also distribution of funds to support the services that our son needs (such as personal care contractors) on an on-going basis, along with the responsibility of investment of those funds using the "Prudent Man Rule": Prudent man rule - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It should be noted that both our attorney and investment firm are members of the NAEPC and work together in a local council to provide services. An overview can been seen at: National Association Of Estate Planners & Councils - NAEPC

- The third component is having the SNT overseen by a commercial trust manager. For us, it is The Private Trust Company:

The Private Trust Company - About PTC

which is responsible for oversight of the trust. Rather than writing about it, here's their wording on the subject:

"The Private Trust Company does not provide day-to-day investment management for trust assets. Instead, PTC allows clients to delegate money management services or maintain their relationship with their financial advisors for investment management. PTC serves in an administrative corporate trustee role, providing all record keeping, accounting and tax preparation; also, PTC ensures that trusts are managed and distributions occur according to the terms of the trust document."

Information on this company can be found at:

The Private Trust Company - About PTC

Since our situation is unique (e.g. complicated) and we don't have anybody in our "circle" to help out, this is the method we chose (at the current time) to take care of things, assuming we both pass tomorrow.

It also allows for the "separation of duties" that one (regardless of situation) might run into with an executor (especially a family member) who might only be looking out for their best interests.

Our solution isn't cheap, but then again it's not only about money for us.
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:02 PM   #13
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I'm looking for suggestions on how to select an executor for our will. I'm not looking for a space alien as the title might suggest, but as of now there are no longer any suitable relatives or friends that I would choose to saddle with the chore, so I'm thinking of an organization like The Nature Conservancy, or possibly a certain lawyer (eek!) that I kind of know but not really.
I can't believe I'm the only person who has run up against this problem - any suggestions?
Thanks.
In San Francisco Bay Area, (CA). There is a lawyer, who specializes in Estates, Wills, Trust. Has his own radio Talk show. Was asked this exact question.

His answer, based on years of experience, was when "institutions" becomes the executors, the outcome not very good. Better to try and find someone else.

He also has his own website, with answers to common questions, concerning wills, trust, estates.
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:00 PM   #14
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Just for fun I spoke with the trust department at Wells Fargo Bank concerning this exact matter. Wells Fargo bank is a large west coast based bank.

I also was concerned about having a dis-interested and trustworthy executor to dispurse assets after we pass. Wells Fargo will indeed act in this capacity (for a fee of course, and a small percent of the estate). There is a minimum size to the estate they will handle. I suspect that many of large banks have trust departments that can do the heavy lifting in settling your estate after you are gone.

If the relatives are lacking in the ethics category then an approach like this may work for you.
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:17 PM   #15
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I can't recommend a specific lawyer, but a lawyer is what I'd use in your situation. You may need to call around to find one who is willing to do the job - a lawyer acquaintance (yes, an actual human, or at least hominid, lawyer) told us he served as executor once, and never would do it again - the amount of work, selling the real estate, dealing with relatives, etc. wasn't worth the executor's fee. So I would also be prepared to offer an extra payment/retainer.

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Old 02-12-2012, 11:53 PM   #16
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In San Francisco Bay Area, (CA). There is a lawyer, who specializes in Estates, Wills, Trust. Has his own radio Talk show. Was asked this exact question.

His answer, based on years of experience, was when "institutions" becomes the executors, the outcome not very good. Better to try and find someone else.

He also has his own website, with answers to common questions, concerning wills, trust, estates.

I have to agree with this assessment. You should use either a lawyer, a CPA, or a financial planner. The only qualification that you need is someone who is honest. The best way to find someone like that is to ask around. I would NOT use your local lawyer referral service provided by the local bar association.
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Old 02-13-2012, 06:25 AM   #17
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The only qualification that you need is someone who is honest.
And if you currently find such an indivudial, so what? Will they be here in 40, 50, or more years from now to perform the required duties and if they are, will they be in a position mentally/physically to do so?

That's one of the problems with trying to select somebody outside your friends/family to perform the needed duties. You can't depend on one specific person, but need an "organization" that (depending on proven history) will outlive any one indivudial.

I'll agree that for many, it makes sense for a friend/relative to be called upon to perform these duties, but for those of us not in that situation, it is more of a challange if you wish to cover all the "what if's".

BTW, DW/me spent hours interviewing people/organizations that we intended to use while forumulating our personal plan, plus ensuring documented separate duties/responsibilities for each area. How many people "interview" their relatives/friends to perform such duties? From the stories I hear about some estate issues, I wonder if more should be done in this area, even if you know the person. How many folks hear about estate/inheritance issues when kept in the friends/family arena?

As DW/me have learned over the years, family can be one of your own worst areas for support.
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Old 02-13-2012, 08:58 AM   #18
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But now that one of us has co-executed (?) a will, we know it's not fun. We want to figure out a way so that no one who cares about us, has to go through and dispose of all our miscellaneous stuff. I'd like to think we'll go through all the closets and drawers and boxes and get rid of everything but important papers, but realistically that's just not happening.
Note that likely someone will have to sign for the funeral before the executor is qualified (you need a death certificate, and some time to elapse for the legal wheels to grind). Actually after selecting the things they want (such as pictures etc) they could just have an estate sale (auction), and then hire someone to cart the rest to the dump. One thing that could be done is to put all the pictures in one place now.
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:54 AM   #19
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And if you currently find such an indivudial, so what? Will they be here in 40, 50, or more years from now to perform the required duties and if they are, will they be in a position mentally/physically to do so?

That's one of the problems with trying to select somebody outside your friends/family to perform the needed duties. You can't depend on one specific person, but need an "organization" that (depending on proven history) will outlive any one indivudial.

I'll agree that for many, it makes sense for a friend/relative to be called upon to perform these duties, but for those of us not in that situation, it is more of a challange if you wish to cover all the "what if's".

BTW, DW/me spent hours interviewing people/organizations that we intended to use while forumulating our personal plan, plus ensuring documented separate duties/responsibilities for each area. How many people "interview" their relatives/friends to perform such duties? From the stories I hear about some estate issues, I wonder if more should be done in this area, even if you know the person. How many folks hear about estate/inheritance issues when kept in the friends/family arena?

As DW/me have learned over the years, family can be one of your own worst areas for support.

If you curently find such an individual, that is an attorney, a CPA, or a financial planner, they should be involved in a practice that will continue even after they are dead and gone. The professionals in that practice will continue the practice for that deceased professional and will execute the wills and trusts in their files as they come due.
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Old 02-13-2012, 05:08 PM   #20
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If you curently find such an individual, that is an attorney, a CPA, or a financial planner, they should be involved in a practice that will continue even after they are dead and gone. The professionals in that practice will continue the practice for that deceased professional and will execute the wills and trusts in their files as they come due.

Based on OP's original question, has anyone used a "financial institution" and been happy with the results? Problem, is when it happens, You are dead.
So, you have to ask the "beneficiaries" were they happy dealing with a "big financial institution".

Of course, "financial institutions" will (sell) want you to buy their services.
If you use a CPA, lawyer, etc, (we assume you trust them), so they might be a good choice. (also, assume you have used them for years, so you have a track record).

Tough question, when you do not have anyone you can trust.
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