What are the Rules for Appointing an Executor in New York?

Estate planning is something everyone, regardless of age or wealth, should take care of in order disperse assets and have final instructions carried out. Whether that plan be a last will and testament or a trust, folks need to create a plan early on in life and update their estate planning as life events like marriage, buying a home, or acquiring wealth. One of the most common ways for folks to settle their affairs is to create a last will and testament and name an executor to oversee the will in probate.


Often times, executors to estates are close family or friends to the testator, the person crafting the will. The executor will bring the will through probate court, taking stock of all the deceased’s assets and debts and ensuring creditors are paid and the assets are dispersed to the proper beneficiaries, which may also include the executor.


However, New York does place certain very limited restrictions on who may serve as an executor to an estate. Under N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act § § 103, 707, the basic rules for serving as an executor of an estate are:


  • The person is at least 18-years old
  • The individual has not been judged to be incapacitated by a court
  • The intended executor does not have a felony conviction


Furthermore, courts may invalidate the executor to the estate if he or she has a history of substance abuse or is otherwise deemed to be untrustworthy or dishonest. Additionally, the court may not allow an individual to serve as an executor of an estate if he or she cannot read and write in English. These laws are also contained in N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act § § 103, 707.


Residency requirements for estate executors


New York does also have limited residency restrictions for who may serve as the executor of an estate. Generally, the law requires the executor to be either a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen residing in the state. U.S. citizens residing in any part of the country may fulfill their role as executor but non-citizens must live in the state.


While U.S. citizens outside the state are allowed to serve as executors, it is generally a good idea to appoint someone living in New York if that is where you live too. However, every situation is unique and testators should make decisions they feel are best for their final wishes, their estate, and the beneficiaries who stand to gain from the proper execution of the will.

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