Can you name a non-resident as your personal representative?

Choosing who will be the executor of your will is an important decision. Personal representatives, along with the court, are largely responsible for ensuring that your will goes through probate in a timely and accurate manner, according to your wishes. But what if the person you want to name isn’t a resident of California?

Out-of-state residents

California does allow nonresident personal representative. An individual is considered a nonresident personal representative if they do not live in California at the time you execute your will and name them, or if they move out of the state at a later date. For our purposes here, we’re concerned with the former scenario.

So long as your appointee meets the other necessary criteria – they must be a U.S. citizen, be at least 18 years of age and have no felony convictions – California law permits them to serve in that capacity. But there is one aspect of nonresident personal representatives you may want to consider.

The surety bond

Most courts will require a nonresident personal representative to obtain a surety bond. Because personal representatives are in a unique position to control your estate when the time comes, the court may compel the bond to ensure they live up to their fiduciary duties and properly look after the estate.

Sometimes, a testator may want the court to waive such a bond, and they’ll include language in their will indicating the court should do so. However, even if this provision is present, the court is under no obligation to follow it – requiring a surety bond is entirely within the court’s discretion.