Iowa Restrictions on Who Can Serve as Executor

Learn the rules about who can be your executor in Iowa.

One of the most important reasons to make a will is to name your executor. After your death, your executor’s primary job is to protect your property until any debts and taxes have been paid, and then transfer what’s left to those who are entitled to it.

Every state has some rules about who may serve as the executor of an estate that goes through probate. Here are the requirements in Iowa.

Basic Requirements for Serving as an Iowa Executor

Your executor must be:

  • at least 18 years old, and
  • of sound mind -- that is, not judged incapacitated by a court.

Many states prohibit people who have felony convictions from serving as executor. In Iowa, however, there is no statute prohibiting you from naming an executor who has been convicted of a felony.

In addition to the restrictions above, an Iowa probate court will reject a potential executor found to be a “chronic alcoholic or a spendthrift,” or otherwise “unsuitable.” It’s highly unlikely, but if a question arises about the qualifications of the person you’ve named as your executor, the court will hold a formal hearing in front of everyone with an interest in your estate -- such as your spouse, heirs, creditors, and other potential executors. At the hearing, a judge will determine who is best suited to serve as executor and terminate any appointment found to be improper.

(See Iowa Code § § 633.3, 633.63.)

Rules for Corporate Executors

While you can name a corporation as your executor, it must be authorized to act as fiduciary in Iowa. (See Iowa Code § 633.63.) That said, think carefully before appointing a bank or trust company to represent your estate. It’s almost always best to name an individual; consider an institution only if you don’t know anyone you trust enough to serve or your estate is very large and complex.

Restrictions on Out-of-State Executors

For practical reasons, it’s smart to name an executor who lives near you. Your executor may have to handle day-to-day matters for weeks, months, or sometimes longer. If you must appoint an executor who lives far away, you should know the requirements Iowa imposes on out-of-state representatives.

In Iowa, a nonresident can serve as your executor only if you appoint an in-state coexecutor, unless the court permits the nonresident to serve alone. (Iowa Code § 633.64.)

Learn More

For more information about choosing your executor and making your will, see the Wills section of Nolo.com

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