An executor is someone named in the will or by the court to take care of any financial obligations and distribute your estate according to your instructions. The U.S. Code defines the "executor" as the person named by you or appointed by a probate court to do the executor's work, or whoever actually has control of your property if there is no formal executor.
There are few legal rules stating who you can and cannot choose as executor of your estate. In most states, the executor can be any person who is a legal adult and who is mentally competent to handle money and legal matters, according to FindLaw. You may choose anyone who meets these requirements to be your executor, including blood relatives or relatives by marriage.
Although the law allows you to appoint a blood relative as your executor, consider both personal qualifications and family dynamics carefully before you choose an executor, advises FindLaw. Emotions run high after a death, and your beneficiaries may assume the worst of your choice of executor. In addition to choosing someone you trust to follow the law and your will's instructions, you may want to choose someone who can negotiate family relationships and smooth ruffled feathers when necessary.
Because being an executor requires work and facing family stress, you may want to ask your chosen executor if she is willing to serve before naming her in your will. In addition, you may want to name an alternate or "backup" executor if the first one cannot serve or changes her mind about agreeing to serve after your death. Like your first choice of executor, your alternate choices can be blood relatives, and should also be chosen carefully.