In the state of California and most other jurisdictions, one of the most important individuals in the probate process is the estate executor. If you are likely to be the executor of a deceased person’s estate in the future, it’s essential to understand what duties will be expected of you. Even if you will not be, the executor’s actions could profoundly affect your inheritance.
The probate process and the executor
When an individual dies, a legal process begins known as probate. When this occurs, the deceased’s property and assets will become part of what is known as their estate. The rules for the estate should hopefully be outlined in the deceased’s last will and testament. This document will name an executor of the estate whose job it is to administer the estate and ensure the deceased’s wishes as outlined in the will are adhered to.
The duties of an executor
In regards to estate and probate administration, the executor of the estate has certain duties that should be completed. These include:
- Protecting the assets in the estate
- Paying bills and other expenses to maintain those assets
- Paying estate taxes and income taxes for the estate
- Setting up and managing the estate’s bank accounts and brokerage accounts
- Locating heirs and informing them of the progress of the probate process
- Supervising the distribution of heirs’ inheritance
- Filing petitions with the court when necessary
The fiduciary duty
One of the most significant aspects of estate executor administration not listed above is the fiduciary duty. It is the duty to always act in the best interests of another party. In this case, the other party is the deceased.
It is the executor of the estate’s job and solemn duty to pursue the deceased’s wishes. This includes many different tasks. It is by no means an easy job, but it is an important one that should be taken seriously.