Why Choosing the Right Executor is so Important

Overwhelmed Executor-Estate Planning

Here's an interesting article that I came across that does a nice job of explaining why choosing the right Executor to handle the administration of your estate is so important. Picking the right person can go along way towards avoid a lot of headaches and problems for your heirs after your death.  Remember, not having any estate plan at all is still the biggest estate planning mistake you can make. If you've been procrastinating about getting a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney and a Living Will in place, give us a call today at (412) 381-7370 or visit our law firm on line at www.americanwillsandestates.com  We've been proudly assisting clients in Pittsburgh and throughout Western Pennsylvania with all of their estate planning needs with competency, compassion and care for over 25 years. Give us a call today.


When drafting a will, parents often name one of their children to be the executor of the estate. They may choose the eldest child, the child who lives the closest or the child they spend the most time with. While this is the most common method of deciding on an executor it can also rip your family apart.  No matter how well written your will, the executor is put into a position of power that allows them to divide your assets in a manner that may be totally different than how the other beneficiaries would interpret the will. Brothers and sisters become bitter enemies, sometimes for life, over the different ways an estate can be divided legally under the will. In addition, easy to move assets such as household items may be taken by one person without the consent of the others.

The first thing that typically happens is that one child goes into the house without the others and takes things for themselves at random such as photos, coin collections, family heirlooms and whatever cash they find. This is not the rare exception. It is the most common scenario paving the way to animosity and feuds before the will is even read. Unless the will specifically lists items and who they should go to, the culprit usually gets away with what they’ve taken.  It may be that one child believes they are entitled to more, regardless of the will. They may think their portion should be more because they spent more time with you. Another child may expect more because their personal circumstances aren’t as comfortable as their brethren. Yet another child may believe they are entitled to more because they gave you more grandchildren.  The term “fair and equitable” has a different meaning for each of your beneficiaries and the one put in charge of the division will carry it out as per their own interpretation, often leaving the others angry and bitter and turning your estate into an ugly family feud. There are several ways that your will can be interpreted and manipulated by the executor.  If you own a house and one of the beneficiaries wants to buy it from the estate, a value must be put on the house to determine the buyout amount. This value is easily manipulated and whoever has access to the appraiser can steer that appraiser to value your home higher or lower than the actual value. What should have been a clear and straightforward valuation becomes murky, putting more money into the pockets of some and less into the pockets of their brethren.

Regardless of whether the home is sold to a beneficiary or put up for sale on the open market, other decisions relating to your home include whether to replace, repair or upgrade items such as carpeting, paint, wallpaper, roofing, siding, heating and air systems and even the landscaping prior to a sale. Should the home be sold as is as quickly as possible? How much work should be done prior to the sale? Who chooses the contractors? Can someone choose a friend to do the work and siphon money by having the friend create a false invoice?  If the home is not immediately put up for sale the next item of contention involves the expenses to maintain the home. Utilities, lawn care and other expenses can quickly add up, eating away at the estate. If one beneficiary moves into the home, their personal expenses get intermingled with the estate expenses causing mistrust and animosity from the other beneficiaries. Just because your child would have treated you with honesty and respect doesn’t mean they will treat their siblings with the same sense of fairness.  Consider the relationships between your children. Has there ever been a jealousy issue? Do they see each other only on holidays or are they best friends? What you saw as a bit of jealousy in your lifetime becomes greatly amplified when you are gone. If they weren’t best friends before they won’t suddenly become best friends after. Whatever civility they showed for your sake will quickly evaporate into bitter squabbles.

Your prized possessions become pawns in a war. Should they be divided or sold and who determines whether the division is fair? Who gets great grandma’s china? Who gets your old war medals? Should everything be sold? If sold, should an independent estate liquidator be put in charge or should it be just a giant garage sale? What if one child is willing to accept a sale of $150 for the bedroom set but another child believes it should not sell for less than $650?  What happens to your car, especially if it’s fully paid for? The fairest solution is an immediate sale to someone not involved in the will with the proceeds being divided among the beneficiaries. What if the executor doesn’t sell the car right away and chooses to instead drive it for awhile? The estate is being put at risk and the car is being devalued creating another bone of contention between your children.  Even with the simplest will, there are many decisions that must be made by the executor. Declaring a straightforward split by percentage doesn’t even begin to protect your beneficiaries from bad decisions, greed, ineptitude, jealousy, improper valuations and the many other factors that can benefit one child at the cost of the others.  While technically you could write a will that would spell out every minor detail, even that would not protect your children from an ugly family war. Your safest choice, even if it costs the estate a percentage for the executor fee, is to name an executor who is not also a beneficiary of the will, and who is not emotionally invested in one child over another.

An attorney is a good choice as long as he doesn’t also represent some of your children in other matters. Even attorneys can tip the scales if any of the beneficiaries put money in their pocket for other issues. Your problem children who need a lawyer for their misdeeds might benefit over the good kids who never need to call an attorney. Lawyers will lean toward the person who is buttering their bread. To prevent such tipping of the scales your executor must be completely and totally unbiased.  You can name anyone you wish to be the executor of your estate including your banker, accountant or best friend. Make sure beforehand that the person is willing to be your executor and provide compensation in the will for the many hours of time they will spend doing the job of executor. Most wills name a backup executor as well, in case the first choice cannot or will not take the job.  As long as the person you choose has no emotional ties to the beneficiaries to influence any decisions made, or you fully trust that person to be as fair and honorable as they can possibly be, choosing an executor who isn’t also a beneficiary offers the best chance for a fair and equitable division of your estate.  Protect your family. Allow your children to grieve for you and comfort one another rather than fall into a bitter family war they might never recover from. Choose your executor wisely.


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"I highly recommend Lloyd Welling from American Wills & Estates. He recently helped my mother and I with my father's estate. I was a bit leery about employing the services of an attorney in PA as I live in CA. Lloyd put me at ease with his professionalism. He was prompt, honest, and provided us with excellent service. Lloyd resolved our estate issue quickly and efficiently."

Denise Jacobs Mcguire - 06/2016

"Mr. Welling is very kind and our experience was Great!. He helped us get through a very complicated time in our lives, very smoothly. I would recommend American Wills and Estates to anyone going through a difficult time or in need of excellent legal advice. Thank you A.W.E. !"

Donna Patterson - 03/2016

"They were the best Law Firm and very professional. Every time the situation felt like there was no hope they made us feel like we mattered and they cared about us and not just another client giving them money. I highly recommend this firm and would absolutely refer them to anyone that came into a unfortunate situation like we did. Oh and by the way we won the case because of all their hard work. You guys rock!"

Brandi Bryant - 11/2016

"Not only did we get personalized service like visits to my mother when she was to ill to travel but got the best advice possible. During this very difficult time Lloyd was a godsend. He took over and handled every detail to perfection. By choosing American Wills & Estates I was able to deal with the death of my mother while all the legal details were handled for me! I highly recommend American Wills & Estates for all of your estate needs. I continue to use them and always will."

Scott G Barbour - 04/2016

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Tina Herceg - 04/2015

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Steve S - May 2017

Steve S - 08/2017

"I was overwhelmed with the thought of drawing up my will. I can say with certainty that dealing with Lloyd Welling and American Wills & Estates, the process could not have been any easier and smoother. Thank you for the great experience!"

Cindy Magri - 06/2015

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Michelle Kienholz - 06/2015

"He made many suggestions and corrections that helped me prepare my Will. He also prepared my Power of Attorney and my Living will. I am always skeptical about Lawyers trying to talk me into something that I do not need to have. Lloyd was up front and honest. I will continue to use his practice."

Cindy Cohen - 10/2016

"I feel fortunate that our family was referred to American Wills and Estates who helped us through a very difficult time. We were in from out-of-town for my Sister's unexpected death and needed to get Power of Attorney and a Living Will for our Mother immediately. American Wills and Estates made the process easy and we felt that they had our best interest in mind. They were very caring and personable. I highly recommend them and I now ask myself why we didn't take care of these matters a long time ago."

Anonymous - 11/2011

"Mr. Lloyd Welling ESQ. , is in my opinion a kind, honest, to the point individual, with a thorough knowledge of his profession and a incredible ability to make even the hardest of times easier to deal with. Extremely professional, accessible, efficient and a pleasure to work with. I have no reserves in recommending his services to anyone who has a need for estate planning or a will."

Ron Capozzoli - 04/2015

"Attorney Welling is extremely knowledgeable and takes the time to make sure the job gets done right. I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone in need of estate planning or the handling of a decedents estate."

Steven Tabano - 08/2014

"I had a great experience with Mr. Welling. He got back to me within hours of my message. He was sweet, easy to talk to and got right to work on my case. I felt secure he knew what he was doing."

Maureen O'Halloran Sinko - 10/2015

"We highly recommend American Wills and Estates, specifically Lloyd A. Welling, Esquire. You need not look any further. His and his staff's manner, knowledge and professionalism was excellent then and still is today. Twenty years later, he and his firm continue to assist my family as I serve as an Executor for another relative. Mr. Welling and staff have expertly served our families for other legal matters as I identified above. Again, you need not look any further."

Tom & Jessica - 11/2016

"Knowledgeable, professional, efficient, compassionate and to the point. These are just a few of the words I would use to describe my recent experience with Mr. Lloyd Welling at American Wills & Estates. Whatever your needs may be involving the will and probate process, Mr. Welling is there to guide you every step of the way, as well as ensure you are being treated fairly and with respect."

Karen Flaherty - 08/2015

"My wife and I just completed our wills with American Wills & Estates. We also had POA's and Living Wills completed. They pointed out several items that we would not otherwise had thought of, but that were important issues to address. The process was very smooth and professional. I would highly recommend Mr. Welling and his staff to everyone."

Steve Amsdell - 01/2013

"I dealt with Lloyd Welling and he was great. When my dad died, Lloyd held my hand throughout the whole process and handled everything. He was very professional and explained everything that he did. I would highly recommend this firm. They also prepared a will for me (very reasonable fee)."

Jodie T. - 08/2010

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Kari Sera - 12/2015

"This firm helped us tremendously with executing my father-in-laws will. I've heard many horror stories about this process. But Lloyd made this painless and process went very smoothly and minimized the emotional toll on my wife. Now we both have our wills through American Wills & Estates."

Sam Walton - 03/2016

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Dawn Culp - 03/2016

"Hard working, professional, knowledgeable and returned my calls promptly and when he said he would. He is honest, straight forward, and will not try to lead you down a path where you spend a lot of money for nothing. He is practical and trustworthy. I HIGHLY recommend that you hire Lloyd Welling if you are searching for a good attorney!"

Elise Able - 06/2016

"Although I have not as yet had the opportunity to do business with American Wills & Estates, it has been my pleasure to know the owner, Atty. Lloyd Welling for most of his and my lifetime. He was then and is now; an articulate, caring and respectful young man. I look forward to working with him professionally in the near future."

Isa Bella - 03/2016

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Mark Breisinger - 04/2016

"American Wills and Estates handled my mom's Will through the probate process quickly and at an affordable and reasonable rate.  Attorney Lloyd Welling was knowledgeable and handled everything efficiently. His advice and friendly manner made a difficult time much easier. Thank you Lloyd!"

Lori Merrit - 06/2017

Lori Merritt - 08/2017

"Without American Wills & Estates, I could never have completed the many local,county and state requirements for opening & closing my late mother-in-law's estate.  Thanks for all the help guys."

Tom A. - March 2017

- 08/2017

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james Raimondi Jr. - 01/2017

"I called around to get an idea of pricing for wills, living wills & power of atty, and was quoted 500$ from other firms. I was not expecting less than half of the competitor's quotes. They were quick, efficient, friendly, (i could go on...). I would and will recommend them in the future!"

David Strell - 07/2016

"Lloyd Wellington is fantastic! Our family is so appreciative of his expert assistance, reliability and prompt handling of our wills. Highly recommended!"

Dawn Justice - 03/2015

"The entire process from start to finish was completed in a matter of a couple emails. Atty Welling provided prompt and expert advice. Extremely satisfied with this law firm."

Sandra Powell - 12/2015

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Jonathan Goonen - 03/2016

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Dp Culp - 07/2013

"Through my difficult situation, I felt 100% satisfied with the one-on-one attention. They were always very organized, even though at times we weren't. Everything I needed to be taken care of was just that, with the extra knowledge of doing it more stress- free. I would recommend AW&E to anyone going through a difficult time."

Anonymous - 10/2008

"I'm very pleased that we selected American Wills and Estates to help my family through what is often a difficult process at best; from the initial set up of my elderly aunt's will and estate planning over five years ago; advice and council during her illness over the past two years; and ultimately step-by-step assistance in settling her estate after her passing earlier this year. They were there for me and my family through it all, and with friendly, supportive and sound advice. I highly recommend their services."

Anonymous - 11/2011

"The attorneys at American Wills & Estates handled my late father's estate in a professional, caring and sympathetic manner. They made a difficult and stressful situation manageable. I would highly recommend their services to anyone experiencing the painful loss of a loved one."

CJR from Ligonier, PA - 12/2006

"The death of a loved one is never an easy thing to handle. However, the attorneys at American Wills & Estates made the process of organizing and administering my late mother's estate as simple and painless as possible. I would highly recommend American Wills & Estates to anyone facing the difficult and often painful ordeal of handling the affairs of deceased loved one."

Anonymous - 06/2006

"In addition to being knowledgeable, he always kept me informed! If I had a question or just wanted to check on the progress of my probate matter, I always received a prompt response. I could not believe the amount of paperwork that is involved. I could not have gotten through this without Mr. Welling's professional help. If you ever need a reliable, trustworthy and honest lawyer, be sure to give Mr. Welling a call."

Martin Coyne - 01/2017

"Mr. Welling has been great in helping me with completing a very difficult estate. He has guided the procedures necessary where a successful conclusion is close at hand. I would and have recommended American Wills and Estates to others."

Frank Perman - 03/2016

"We highly recommend American Wills and Estates. You need not look any further. I wish to note that I first engaged Mr. Welling in 1997 as I served as the Executor of my grandmother's estate. His and his staff's manner, knowledge and professionalism was excellent then and still is today. Twenty years later, he and his firm continue to assist my family as I serve as an Executor for another relative. Mr. Welling and staff have expertly served our families for other legal matters as I identified above."

Thomas Hrabovsky - 11/2016