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Can an Executor of a Will Live Out of State?

Choosing the right executor for your will is one of the most important parts of an estate plan. But what happens if you or your executor move to another state? Do you need to draft a new will? Can you have an out-of-state executor? Here’s what Arizona’s executor laws have to say about selecting someone who lives in another state. 

Arizona Executor Laws

Can an Arizona Estate Have an Out-of-State Executor?

Arizona does not prohibit an individual who lives in another state from serving as the executor of a will. However, the out-of-state exception only applies to individuals. You cannot choose a corporation (such as a bank or trust company) that is based in another state as your executor. 

If you or your executor moves to a different state, you don’t necessarily have to make any changes to your will. You should, however, take a moment to evaluate whether or not that person is still the best choice for the role.

Just because an executor can manage your estate from out-of-state doesn’t mean they should. Administering an estate long-distance can be very challenging. For instance, it may take the executor longer to collect, evaluate, and transfer the estate’s assets. The executor might also be required to appear in court to represent the estate, which can be difficult to arrange.  

But if someone in another state is your most trustworthy option, don’t worry. They can work with an experienced Arizona lawyer who understands the state’s laws. An estate planning lawyer will assist your executor with administering your estate, without your executor needing to travel to Arizona. 

Who Can Be an Executor?

In Arizona, you can name anyone over 18 who is of sound mind to be your estate’s executor. This gives you plenty of options when it comes to choosing an executor—they don’t have to live in the same state or be a family member. And, unlike many other states, Arizona does not restrict people with felony convictions from being named as the executor of an estate.

If you do not name an executor in your will, the court will appoint one. They will make their selection according to the following order of succession: 

  1. Your surviving spouse
  2. Your legal heirs, beginning with your children
  3. If you were a veteran, married to a veteran, or the child of one, then the Department of Veterans Services
  4. Your creditors (after waiting 45 days since you have passed away)
  5. The public fiduciary

Three Tips for Choosing an Executor

Follow these tips to ensure you choose the best person for the job, whether they live in the same state as you or not:

  1. Choose someone who has proven to be responsible and is in good financial standing.
  2. Discuss the responsibilities of executing an estate with them ahead of time so they understand what they will need to do.
  3. Name an alternate person as successor, so they can fulfill the executor role if your primary choice cannot.

How to Change Your Will

If you want to name a new executor for any reason, you can easily amend your will. You will need to write a codicil, which changes the terms of your will without the need to create a new one. 

After you write the codicil, you will need to validate it according to the same rules as when you validate a will. That means you will need to be over 18 years old and of sound mind. You will also need to sign it in front of at least two witnesses. Make sure to store the codicil and your will together in a secure place, like a safety deposit box at your bank or with your lawyer. 

Estate Planning Attorney in Mesa and Chandler

If you need help creating a will, administering an estate, or writing a codicil, the experienced estate planning team at Phelps LaClair can help. We offer a wide range of services that ease the burden of estate planning and ensure that your wishes will be carried out. Give us a call at 480-892-2488 today to schedule a free consultation. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/14/2022). Photo by Ioann-Mark Kuznietsov on Unsplash

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