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The role of the executor in an estate plan

| Mar 29, 2021 | Estate Planning |

If you are creating an estate plan in California, you may wonder what the duties of an executor are as you try to decide who to appoint. An executor is the person who is in charge of handling a person’s estate after their death. Their duties include guiding the estate through the probate process, filing any taxes, paying certain obligations, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

An executor’s duties

The first job of an executor is to locate the will and file it with the court to start the probate process. The executor also needs to gather and protect all of the assets that belonged to the individual and must contact beneficiaries. “Protecting” these assets can mean doing such things as paying the mortgage and auto loans. These payments can be made from the estate. An executor is responsible for making an effort to locate creditors and paying them out of the estate as well. An executor must also prepare a tax return. Only after all of these duties are taken care of are assets distributed to beneficiaries.

Skills an executor needs

When appointing an executor, there are a few things to keep in mind. An executor can hire legal or financial professionals to help them, which is also paid for from the estate, so they do not have to be experts in these areas. They do need to be trustworthy and have good organizational skills. They may also need to have good people skills. Dealing with an estate can sometimes lead to family conflict, and the executor may need to navigate this.

You may want to discuss your estate plan with an attorney. An attorney might be able to help you determine what estate planning strategies would be best in your situation and may also discuss the other roles in an estate plan with you to help you make the right choices.