The role of an executor in California

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2023 | Estate Planning, Executor Or Conservator

When writing a will in California, you must name someone who’ll execute your wishes and ensure your loved ones get what you bequeathed them in a timely manner without any issues. This person, known as an executor, is typically someone you trust.

Understanding an executor

An executor is a person or entity appointed in someone’s last will and testament who carries out their wishes regarding their assets and property after they die. They will be responsible for estate administration, which basically entails ensuring the court, your loved ones and any other interested parties honor your desires and instructions.

The duties of an Executor

An executor assumes many roles when fulfilling their duty – predominantly administrative but also fiduciary. The executor is the legal representative of the deceased and must ensure the enforcement of their will. This entails paying debts, taxes and other financial obligations while also distributing assets to beneficiaries according to the terms outlined in the will.

For non-financial duties, an executor handles all of the necessary paperwork after the death of the estate owner, including filing for probate with the court, obtaining death certificates, taking inventory of assets and liabilities, settling any disputes over wills or estates and notifying creditors of the death. Executors are responsible for notifying any government agencies about changes in ownership of property or pensions held by estate members, as well as making sure beneficiaries receive their insurance benefits.

How executors are compensated

You can pay executors for their services, though it’s not required, and any legal fees associated with carrying out the will, usually a percentage of the estate’s value. Some are also insured, so you may have to pay an insurance premium as well.

It is important to choose someone you trust as an executor, as they may be liable for any mismanagement of the estate. If they don’t file the will or other documents with the court in a timely manner, fail to pay debts or taxes, or if they distribute assets incorrectly, a probate judge can hold the executor financially responsible for any losses incurred by those affected. An executor can also lose their right to serve in this capacity if they breach their duties or commit fraud. Thus consider looking for someone with integrity and diligence who has sufficient knowledge of legal matters and can handle financial tasks efficiently.