When a testator creates their will, they often already have a specific person in mind to act as their estate executor when they pass.
Usually, this person is someone who is close to the testator—either a spouse, an adult child, a sibling, or a close friend—and in the ideal case, the two would have closely discussed the details of the estate plan and the executor would be well informed of the testator’s wishes.
But while the executor-to-be is an important person in the estate planning stages, their duties don’t begin until after the testator passes. They cannot be the executor of someone’s estate until that person dies.
If an executor dies before the testator, then the testator has no potential executor for their estate. In this case, the testator must act fast by amending their will and appointing a new executor.
If the testator dies with no executor named in their will, then the court will appoint someone to act as executor.
This is not exactly ideal, since the nominated person may be unaware of the responsibilities of the role and may be unprepared or overwhelmed to carry them out, since they weren’t prepped on the estate plan.