Legal question about wills (NOT seeking advice)

The basic question: when a lawyer is updating a will, do they need the physical (mailing) address of the person who’s been deemed the executor? Is a P.O. box enough?
The background: my parents and I Do. Not. Get. Along. I’m not totally estranged from them (yet) as we’re still in touch via email, but the last time I moved, I did not tell them my new address. They know I’m in the same city, but that’s it. I don’t feel comfortable with them knowing where I live, in particular my mother, who has a history of manipulative and erratic behavior.

Anyway, I got a call from their attorney a month or so ago, saying that he was updating their will (he made it sound like a regularly-scheduled thing, not like they’re re-writing the will, but I’m not sure of that) and that he needed my updated contact information. I told him that I wasn’t comfortable with my mother knowing my address, and gave him my P.O. He seemed satisfied with that.

He also asked me if I’m the person who should get, as he put it, “that 3 a.m. call” about my parents. I told him: No. As I understood it, that means I am no longer the executor, and I’m 100% fine with that.

Now my mother is hounding me for my address (again) and saying that a P.O. isn’t enough for the attorney’s office. As I type this all out, I can see how thin and flimsy that excuse is, but I wanted to ask any legal types out there … assuming I am still the executor, is giving the attorney my P.O. enough?
It’s not really relevant, but this whole “will” thing is the only reason I paid to set up a P.O. in the 1st place. So far, not one piece of mail has arrived.

You’re the executor if they named you executor. Did he actually tell you that you were previously named executor and are not any longer?

Go with whatever the attorney told you. If he said the POBox is sufficient, then it is. If you have a concern, call the attorney’s office.

I’ll agree with that. IANAL but it sems to me the only question that someone can ask if a question arises over a legal document like that is “are you the one and only Joe Smith that they mean?”

Hence, something like “my son Joe Smith of Dayton Ohio” is more than sufficient to establish identity. If the lawyer is not pestering you for a “real” address, then you don’t need to provide one.

You know what they say about family. You can pick your friends…

No, you can still be the executor of the will without being the next-of-kin who is listed as the go-to name when it comes to “that 3 a.m. call”.

For example, my ex was her step-dad’s next-of-kin and was the person who was listed as his emergency contact. So she was the one who was called and dealt with the coronoers office, morgue, funeral home, etc.

She had nothing to do with the execution of his will. Some old buddy of his was the executor of the will.

Executor =/= next of kin. The executor of the will is whoever is deemed to be the executor. They could pick the guy who mows their lawn, for all it matters.

Could you perhaps give the lawyer your address and ask him not to provide it to your mother?

Isn’t the executor often a lawyer, and not even one of the heirs at all?

A physical address is not required for the “executor to be legal”. I’m not even sure that any address is required. As long as they have a means to communicate to you telephone, e-mail should be sufficient. Many firms may want to have a physical address so they can FedEx or courier over documents if necessary. A P.O. box will not meet those requirements, but the particular law firm would have to just deal with it, but it shouldn’t affect the legality of the appointment of executor.

And if it does, tell them to name someone else.

Sometime, but not always. My dad was my grandparents executor, and he’s not a lawyer.

The lawyer has no reason to not tell his client. The OP is not his client.

To name you as executor or a beneficiary in the will, there need only be enough information to identify you. Presumably in this case, that would be “my son, purplehorseshoe.” Your actual appointment as executor, following the death of a parent who has requested your appointment in his or her will, would likely require your actual address, not just a post office box, but that will depend on practice in the state in which the will is probated. You do not have to accept appointment, even if the will names you as executor.

There does have to be some way of getting in touch with you, if you are to execute the will or receive property under it. Your email address might be an option, though it’s up to you as to whether that’s sufficiently reliable as your only point of contact. The lawyer’s office will not call you at 3 am, both because they are closed at that time and because nobody at the office will know anything about a death or emergency until somebody tells them or they see it in the news.

In connection with updating your parents’ estate plan, the lawyer may also be thinking of adding or updating a health care proxy or power of attorney, which would give the named agent responsibility for making medical decisions for your parents, as well as a power of attorney for financial matters. A health care proxy or power really does need to name someone who can be reached at 3 am. It sounds like you do not want that responsibility.

Just to add my 2¢: Since the question you asked was “Was your PO Box enough?” My (non-legal) opinion is yes. As others have said, what’s more relevant is that they have enough information to contact you. When I did my will, I mentioned various people, but gave no address information, just their relationship to me. Similar case when my mother did hers.

As a rule lawyers can get information from third parties on the condition they not disclose it to the client, so long as it’s on the up and up. If the client thinks it’s important for this information to be in the portfolio and the third party refuses to disclose it to the client, then the lawyer is best serving his client by promising not to pass it on – that way, somebody knows the score, whereas otherwise it would be completely unavailable.


I’m my mother’s executor (and really wish I weren’t, but the window on that is closed now), and I’m nowhere near being a lawyer. I’m actually going to have to HIRE a lawyer to get this will probated because I’m completely at sea as far as how to do it.

This is all very helpful, thank you. :slight_smile:

No, that’s a TV thing where they have the rich Scrooge McDuck die and the crusty old lawyer calls all the beneficiaries together in his office for the reading of the will, like it was some fancy prose taht was being unveiled.

In real life, I’ve never seen that happen. The executor reads the will: “Nephew Stewey gets my coin collection” and then makes sure the estate is divided accordingly. So after making sure the deceased’s debts are paid off, you’d wrap up the coin collection and FedEx it to Stewey.

If the estate is complicated, you may need to hire a lawyer to help with the paperwork. Eg/ When it comes to dividing a stock portfolio and transferring real property and titles.

When my dad died there was none of that stuff about having everyone assembled to read the will. It would have been as boring as shit and a huge inconvenience for everyone. No lawyer was necessary at all even with some of the fiddly paperwork.

Same with both of my parents.

As long as you are going to have a PO box, you might as well get a private box at a place like Postal Annex, UPS Store. You can list your address as 1200 Busy Blvd # 201, with 201 being the box number. You can get UPS parcels, and Fed Ex stuff which you cannot get at a PO Box at the post office, and pass it off to unwanted relatives as an apartment. That way when Mom shows up for a surprise visit, she is actually surprised that you don’t live there. Just make sure that the operator knows not to give your home address.