I think you can ask who you like to be executor. Normally they say to have two, and I was advised not to use a solicitor. It can be quite arduous being executor though and if they are abroad it could be very difficult to execute their duties. You can decline to be executor even if you are named in a person's will. Normally with a straightforward will no one will intervene anyway. It is a matter of completing the proper forms correctly and distributing the assets accordingly. Having been an executor though I really think it would be hard for someone living overseas to do it. They can only be paid expenses, you don;;t get paid for doing the work, which can be enormous.