It is fairly common for someone to name an adult child, a sibling or even a friend to be the executor of their will. People like appointing executors they know and trust. Sometimes people think that they have to appoint a family member.
On the other hand, when those appointed as executors learn that they have been appointed, then their first thoughts are that they would rather not serve.
The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog recently wrote about what happens in such cases in "What Happens When A Person Refuses To Serve As An Executor?"
If a person learns that he or she has been designated to be an executor while the will testator is still alive, then the solution is simple. He or she should ask the testator to create a new will and name someone else to the position.
What if the testator has already died?
The process is a little more complicated, but not much. The named executor should submit the will to probate and then formally file a request to be relieved from the duties.
Thereafter, if another person is not named as a successor executor in the will, then the probate court will appoint someone. The law does not force anyone to act as an executor if they do not want to do so.
These situations can and should be avoided entirely. Ask the person (and any successors), before you sign your will, if they would be willing to serve.
Your estate planning attorney can help you with this process and offer suggestions regarding potential candidates to serve.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Jan. 8, 2016) "What Happens When A Person Refuses To Serve As An Executor?