Any person or person authorized by law can serve as the executor. There are exceptions as enumerated in the Surrogate Court Procedure Act §707.
Reena Gulati Blog
The short answer is yes but it is not a definitive answer. If the estate of the decedent will take a long time to go through probate, if there is a will or in the absence of a will, the administration of the decedent’s estate will be protracted due to disputes within the estate, such as a will contest or the objection to the appointment of a nominated Executor for fear that that the nominee is unfit for the job or fails to qualify, a Preliminary Executor can be appointed.
So your spouse and you own all your property jointly. One spouse passes away; you get everything by operation of law as the joint holder of the property. Except now you go to the bank to operate the safe deposit box and you inform your banker of the unfortunate news and she/he tells you that unfortunately, you cannot access the safe deposit box. What? - You say. And the banker explains that since the co-owner has deceased the bank requires you to obtain authority from the court to allow you access from this point forward.
A living trust is simply a trust that an individual such as yourself will create while you are living. The person creating is usually called the grantor. It is normally set up to avoid probate. It gives the grantor a lot of flexibility as it can easily be amended. Therefore if the grantor wishes to make a change it can be done rather easily. Yet it passes the grantor’s property directly to the beneficiaries upon the occurrence of certain conditions stated in the trust and without the legal process of having to go to court and going through probate.
Simple wills will likely not be sufficient to address the goals of your current spouse and children from a prior marriage or stepchildren. A trust will be the better option. However, the specifics of your family fact pattern will determine the kind of trust and what is included in the trust that should be in keeping with the financial goals for your family. Although it requires a little bit more time and attention, it can avoid many misgivings and acrimony with your loved ones and plan for an easier transition.