The Executor Who is Neither a Resident Nor a Citizen (Part 1)
We received a call the other day regarding an estate administration matter. A New Jersey resident died leaving a home and other assets in her name. She named her her sibling as the sole heir as well as her executor. Sounded pretty straight forward. An inheritance tax return would need to be filed and inheritance tax paid in order to complete the estate administration process but since the executor would be the sole heir no accounting would be necessary.
There was, however, one potential wrinkle. The executor is neither a New Jersey resident nor a U.S. citizen. In fact, the executor does not speak English. The caller wanted to know whether that would prevent her from serving as executor.
New Jersey does not have a specific requirement that an executor named in a will be a New Jersey resident or even a United State citizen. Where there is no will and an administrator needs to be appointed, court rules establish a preference for a New Jersey resident unless there is a compelling reason otherwise. There is no such rule that even suggests a preference for the choice of a non resident or non citizen as executor of a will.
I did tell the caller that as a practical matter, however, there are reasons not to choose a non resident or a non citizen. The fact that the chosen sibling doesn’t speak English does not make things any easier.
Next week I’ll explain why.