West Virginia Restrictions on Who Can Serve as Executor

Learn the rules about who can be your executor in West Virginia.

One of the most important reasons to make a will is to name your executor -- sometimes called a “personal representative” in West Virginia. 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 West Virginia.

Basic Requirements for Serving as a West Virginia Executor

West Virginia statutes provide no specific requirements an executor must meet, and you are free to name any adult that you trust as your executor. The court must appoint that person unless there is clear evidence that he or she is incompetent or negligent. (See 221 W.Va. 266.)

Choose someone who is honest and able to keep track of details in an organized way. Before you make your will, be sure your choice is willing to accept the job.

Rules for Corporate Executors

West Virginia statutes permit you to name a banking institution as your executor if it maintains its main office or a branch in the state. You can also name a corporation as your executor, as long as its “principal office or place of business” is in West Virginia.

(W.Va. Code Ann. § 44-5-3.)

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.

West Virginia 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 West Virginia imposes on out-of-state executors.

In West Virginia, a nonresident executor must post bond and appoint the clerk of the county commission of the county where the estate is being probated to act as a resident agent. Your executor’s in-state agent will accept legal papers on behalf of your estate. (W.Va. Code Ann. § 44-5-3.)

Learn More

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

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