In California, most people who put together an estate plan appoint someone as executor of their will. One of the main duties as executor of a will is to carry out the decedent’s wishes after they die. If you are the executor of a will, your duties begin when you open the estate for probate with the court. They do not end until the estate settles and every beneficiary gets his or her share of the estate. California law allows the executor of the will to collect payment for work performed as executor. The money an executor can receive for their services comes out of the estate. Although these fees are statutory fees allowed under California law, may executors waive this fee. Nevertheless, being the executor of a will means that you have a fiduciary duty to the estate. In other words, you are legally obligated to follow the instructions in the will as part of your duties as executor.
For most estates, the process is not complicated and you do not need a lawyer. Having a registered legal document assistant prepare the probate forms can make it much easier to complete your duties as executor of a will. In addition, it will offer substantial savings over hiring an expensive attorney for this process.
Duties as Executor of a Will
As executor of a deceased person’s will, one of your duties is to manage the financial affairs of the estate. It is also your job to deal with the probate court on behalf of the estate. To fulfill your duties as executor of the will, you must complete some or all of the following tasks:
- Petition the court to appoint you as executor
- Attend a hearing, in which you formally accept the role as executor
- Locate all bank accounts, real estate properties, and other assets belonging to the deceased person’s estate, and notify the probate court of their value
- Collect debts owed to the deceased person at the time of death
- Publish notices inviting creditors to request payment of the deceased person’s debts out of the estate
- Pay the deceased person’s debts
- Sell property belonging to the estate in order to pay the debts
- Distribute the deceased person’s assets to the beneficiaries listed in the will
- Pay taxes on the estate
- Collect payment for your role as executor of the will
The difficulty of the executor’s job depends on the state of the deceased person’s finances and on how well the person planned for the estate. If the deceased person had lots of unpaid debts, you might have to work hard to sell the estate’s property at prices approved by the court. Meanwhile, if the decedent had no debts, and especially if most of the assets were non-probate, such as trusts and transfer-on-death bank accounts, then your duties as executor of a will are simply to make sure to follow its instructions. Even if probate takes a long time, you do not need a lawyer unless there are major legal battles related to the estate.
Take Your Fiduciary Duty Seriously with Professional Help
California law acknowledges that being an executor of a will is a real job, so if you need help with the probate documents, rely on a professional. Contact A People’s Choice to help you prepare and file the forms for California probate necessary to complete your probate case. Call us today at 800-747-2780. We are here to help!
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This article was very helpful. I have been pre-appointd by my parents as the excutor of my parents estate. Must i still go through the court to manage thr affairs.
it would depend on whether or not assets need to be marshaled to the beneficiaries.