Log In

Reset Password

Should a family member be executor of a will?

Choose wisely: you can pick a family member to be the executor of your will, but be sure they have a business acumen and are trustworthy, advises Dave Ramsey

Dear Dave,

I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t ask a family member to be the executor of your will. What are your feelings about this?


Dear Joyce,

I don’t necessarily agree with this line of thinking. In my mind, a family member who is competent and has integrity can definitely be the executor. “Executor” just means they execute, thus the name. They’re going to execute the wishes of the will. If the family member has the business acumen and trustworthiness to execute the wishes and directives in a will, then that’s perfectly fine.

Just remember to use some common sense, too, when choosing an executor. If you have an extremely complicated estate, say 80 pieces of real estate with investments and everything, you probably don’t want your 22-year-old niece, nephew or grandchild who just graduated college in charge of things. I would advise choosing someone with a little more life experience, and maybe some success in the real world.

The people who say family shouldn’t do this are the same ones who say you shouldn’t have family in your business. You can have family in both. You just have to have good boundaries, clear roles, and honest, mature people. Make sure you give clear instructions and explanations for your decisions, too. Sit down with your family, explain who the executor’s going to be, and why, along with what the will says. It’s also not a bad idea to have an initial reading of the will while you’re still alive. This communicates your wishes personally and takes some of the pressure off of the executor.


Dear Dave,

I’m getting married this summer, and I’m on Baby Step 4 of your plan while starting to invest for the first time. My fiance is getting on-board with your advice, and he’s currently in the process of paying down his student loan. Should I put my emergency fund money, minus $1,000, towards his student loan debt?


Dear Elizabeth,

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I’m really proud of you guys, too, for your mature behaviour where money is concerned.

First, don’t pay anything of his until after the wedding and you two are home from your honeymoon. At that point, “mine” and “his” becomes “ours,” and you can realign your money situation to reflect your total money makeover as a couple. Make sure that “we” have an emergency fund of at least $1,000 in the bank at that point. Then, if you like, you can throw the rest of what you previously had in your emergency fund at the debt.

You can both also pile up cash between now and the big day, so that after you two are official you’ll have even more cash on hand. Who knows, you might be able to knock out that student loan completely and begin your life together debt-free. That would be awesome!


Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business, and CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven bestselling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 11 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations and digital outlets. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.