What does it mean to be an executor of an estate?
In the simplest terms, an estate executor’s job is to settle a deceased person’s estate matters, usually in probate court. Choosing who you want to serve as the executor of your will can be difficult. It is important you select someone who is meticulous, detail-oriented and highly organized, as well as actually logistically capable of carrying out the tasks associated with that position.
What is the estate executor or estate administrator responsible for?
Understanding the tasks of an estate executor can help you make a more thoughtful and reasoned decision as to who is best suited for the position. With this in mind, here is a brief overview of some of the tasks an estate executor will be expected to handle.
Filing the will in court: The executor must locate and read the will and determines who inherits which pieces of property. Even if probate isn’t necessary, the will must still be filed with the probate court.
Death notifications: The executor must notify banks, credit card companies, government agencies and heirs of the decedent’s death.
Set up accounts: The executor will set up an account specifically for managing incoming funds and paying ongoing bills owed by the estate during the probate process.
Filing asset list: The executor must carefully analyze the assets owned by the decedent and create a detailed inventory of those assets, which must then be filed in probate court.
Maintaining property: The executor is in charge of maintaining certain types of property until it is sold or distributed. For example, if the decedent owned a house, the executor is in charge of keeping up with general maintenance of that house before it will be distributed to heirs or potentially sold. In addition, the decedent should manage vehicles, safety deposit boxes and any other assets that might require ongoing care or protection.
Paying off debts: If the decedent has any outstanding debts or taxes, the executor is in charge of paying off those debts and filing final income tax returns from the first of the year through the date of death. Depending on the size of the estate, the executor may also need to pay estate taxes, but this is not an issue in the overwhelming majority of the estates in the country.
Asset distribution: The executor is responsible for distributing all assets in accordance with the wishes the decedent outlined in his or her will. However, if the decedent did not leave behind a will, the assets will then be distributed according to the intestate succession laws of California. In either case, it is the executor’s responsibility to make sure all heirs get their inheritance.
Property disposal: If any assets remain after distribution and paying off debts, the executor is responsible for deciding what to do with those assets. Loved ones or friends may wish to take some of the property, otherwise it may be sold, donated or discarded—whatever the executor believes to be in the best interest of the estate and the most suitable option for the property in question.
An estate planning attorney can help you choose an executor for your estate
Being an estate executor is a lot of responsibility, so it is important to think carefully about who you choose for the role. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney for advice in choosing your executor and passing on your assets to your loved ones. For a free consultation, call (626) 307-2800 or fill out the form below.