If you are a California resident and have already created an estate plan, you are well ahead of many people. One of the key steps is to choose an executor for your estate. Now that you have done the work to plan for the distribution of your assets and wealth after you die, choose the right person to execute your wishes with help and advice from the AARP.

You may want to consider a corporate trustee, such as a financial services firm or a bank. The value is that they will be around long enough to outlive a trust, but the downside is that it is more expensive to have a corporate trustee than a private one. Corporate trustees are also held to restrictions of their shareholders and increased liability over time.

It may seem like the right answer to appoint someone who is a financial expert. However, the truth is that someone with common sense, basic financial knowledge and other critical traits like accountability and trustworthiness could be your best option. As you choose, consider if the person will reach out and ask for help on things they do not understand or if they will attempt to handle everything on their own.

You may also want to name a team of executors to save one person in your family from having to make all the decisions. This can create family tension if the wrong person is in charge. Rather than choosing your spouse or oldest child by default, choose an executor who can help avoid family conflict.

Finally, you want to check back every few years to make sure your executor is still the right person to handle your estate. If there has been a major life change, you may need to choose a different executor.

This is intended for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.