Choosing your estate executor doesn’t just mean naming your firstborn child. Many people do this, and it’s not necessarily wrong in all cases, but don’t assume you have to do so. What you really need to do is consider each potential executor’s individual personality and skills so that you can pick the right person for the job.
For instance, the executor is going to need to pay off your taxes and the debts that your estate still holds. You need to pick someone who shows the ability to meet deadlines and handle complex paperwork. You also need to know that their math skills are up to the task. You don’t want to give someone the job only for them to be in over their head.
They may also need to take care of your physical assets until something can be done with them. For instance, perhaps the plan is to sell your home so that your heirs can split the money. Even in the best cases, this can take weeks or months. You need someone who will be around to meet with real estate agents, go to meetings, maintain the property and ultimately transfer ownership to someone else. If your executor does not live in California, is that physical distance going to prove to be something of a hurdle as they attempt to work their way through this process?
Ultimately, you need to think very carefully about who you want to choose, and it is also wise to talk to your heirs to find out if they do or do not want the job. As you do this, consider all of the legal steps you can take for complete estate planning.