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What are the duties of an executor?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2023 | Trustees Executors & Fiduciaries |

A loved one named you as the executor of their will and personal representative of their estate. It is important to understand the roles and duties that lay ahead of you.

There are many responsibilities that make up this role. So, it may be helpful to speak with an experienced estate planning and probate attorney to fully understand this role. However, here is a brief overview of the fundamental categories of duties.

Your duties under the law

The California Probate Code highlights the legal duties executors must adhere to, including fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries of the estate. It is critical to take great care when managing the affairs of your loved one who passed and make sure you work in the best interests of those who will inherit assets.

Your role as manager of the estate

A previous blog post outlined some of the things to consider when choosing an executor. As we discussed in this blog, the executor must manage and administer the estate. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Locating all of your loved one’s assets
  • Taking inventory of these assets
  • Valuing or getting appraisals for these assets
  • Sending notices to creditors about your loved one’s passing
  • Handling any claims from these creditors or others
  • Distributing assets according to the will

This is not an exhaustive list of all of the steps required to manage your loved one’s estate during the probate process. Additionally, there are many subtasks included within each of the steps listed above. Those named as executors must take time to fully understand all of the duties they must complete concerning the estate.

Your responsibility to manage finances

Managing your loved one’s financial affairs falls under the same category as managing your loved one’s estate during probate. However, it is important to highlight this role separately because of the wide range of duties that fall under the umbrella of finances in relation to the estate.

For example, executors must:

  • Set up an account for the estate, if any money is owed to it
  • Pay remaining bills, such as utilities or other debts to creditors
  • File taxes on your loved one’s estate
  • Handle funeral costs from the estate
  • Keep receipts of any transactions organized

Handling finances is a key part of an executor’s role. You must make sure you are prepared for this role to reduce your own stress, as well as protect your loved one’s legacy.