Your California Will ought to nominate someone to serve as executor of your estate when you die. But when the person you nominate declines or cannot serve as executor, when no one else is named in the Will as a successor executor, who can serve?
The same question arises when someone in California dies without a Will and obviously hasn’t left behind a document that names anyone to probate the estate. Whoever is appointed when a Will does not exist is called an administrator.
The priority of those persons entitle to administer an estate is set by California law under Probate Code Section 8461. Here’s the order of priority:
(a) Surviving spouse or domestic partner.
(d) Other issue.
(f) Brothers and sisters.
(g) Issue of brothers and sisters.
(i) Issue of grandparents.
(j) Children of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner.
(k) Other issue of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner.
(l) Other next of kin.
(m) Parents of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner.
(n) Issue of parents of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner.
(o) Conservator or guardian of the estate acting in that capacity at the time of death who has filed a first account and is not acting as conservator or guardian for any other person.
(p) Public administrator.
(r) Any other person.
Do you think you should serve as executor or administrator in California? Speak with a qualified probate attorney.