California’s Probate Code includes numerous provisions on how to execute a will and the estate administration process, but it does not offer tips on making a decision on one of the most important aspects of estate planning: Choosing the person to act as your executor. The common presumption is you would appoint your spouse or a close family member, and this does make sense in many situations. However, there are other factors that you will want to consider when creating a will in California, once you fully understand the role of an executor.
Your executor is the person in charge of administering your estate, which includes such specific tasks as:
- Filing the will in the appropriate court clerk’s office, along with supporting documents necessary to confirm the will’s validity and initiate the probate process;
- Inventorying and taking control over all real and personal property that you own upon your death;
- Identifying all of your debts, such as amounts owed on utilities, for funeral and burial costs, lines of credit, mortgages, your final income tax bill, car loans, and other accounts;
- Giving notice to unknown creditors, so that these entities can come forward and make any verified claims;
- Managing assets during the probate process, such as collecting rent on leased properties, handling investments, and liquidating assets as necessary;
- Distributing estate assets or funds according to the designations in your will;
- Preparing an accounting and closing the estate; and,
- Any other tasks that may be necessary to wrap up your final affairs.
In light of the official responsibilities of an executor according to California law, there are certain skills and traits you will want this individual to possess.
- Given the tasks involved with managing estate assets, paying debts, and distributing your estate, an executor should be well-organized and have basic administrative skills;
- You need someone you can depend on to accomplish the intentions of your will, so reliability is essential;
- There are deadlines involved with estate administration, so you should appoint an executor who can comply without procrastination.
- Have the time and flexibility from competing demands in their own life to take on a new part-time job.
Talk to a California Estate Planning Lawyer About the Details of Your Will
With the help of an attorney to explain the estate administration and probate process, you are in a better position to make informed decisions regarding all aspects of creating a will. If you would like to hear more about an executor’s job, please contact Santa Rosa, CA estate planning attorney Charles D. Stark.