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An executor is a court-appointed fiduciary charged with the administration of a deceased person’s probate estate. When clients create wills, they nominate their choices of executors. However, a person is not, in fact, an executor until a judge enters an order in a probate proceeding appointing that person as executor. At that point, the executor is empowered with the rights and powers of executor as well as the fiduciary obligations of executor. No person nominated in a will as an executor has to accept the role and there are very good reasons a person might not choose to do so: illness, time commitments, lack of knowledge or family discord are some common reasons. Once an executor has been appointed, that person may withdraw as executor and pass-the-torch, so to speak, to the next person nominated, with court approval. If no executor nominated in the will is willing to act, state statute provides a list of priority as to persons who have a right to nominate an executor for the estate.
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