Planning your estate is the responsible thing to do, and planning who will be the executor of your estate calls for extra thought.
While most people choose children, siblings or friends to execute their will, you should give thought to the qualities that make a good executor. You should also consider where your executor lives – in many cases, an out-of-state executor will need to post a probate bond to act on another person’s behalf.
Qualities of a good executor
An executor is responsible for managing every aspect of your estate after you die. They will work not only with your children, relatives and business partners, but with CPAs, attorneys and government offices.
An executor can expect to be on the job for a minimum of two years until all liabilities are taken care of, all assets are distributed and the final taxes have been paid.
That’s why you want someone with an attention to detail as well as some experience working with officials and professionals.
Honesty is crucial since every aspect can undergo scrutiny if any decision seems awry.
Communication is also a key quality. Families who squabble under the best of circumstances will likely be difficult to deal with when emotions and money are thrown into the mix.
California places few restrictions on who can serve as an executor – they must be at least 18 years old and not have been judged incapacitated by a court. A felony conviction is not an impediment.
However, a judge can reject an executor if the judge finds in a formal hearing that they may be incapable of carrying out your wishes or are likely to mismanage your estate.
California – unlike many states – does not ban out-of-state executors. But many counties in California do require out-of-state executors to post a probate bond to protect the beneficiaries and other parties from fraud or mismanagement.
Your estate planning documents, including the will that names your executor, are some of the most important legal documents you will ever sign. Make sure you engage a qualified, experienced attorney to help you prepare your estate planning documents.