The executor of an estate is a person appointed to administer the last will of a deceased person. This appointment is usually made by the testator of the will, but it is the court that formally appoints the executor after a prior hearing. The primary duty of the executor is to carry out the instructions to manage the affairs and wishes of the deceased. In California, just because the court appoints you as executor of a will does not mean that you automatically have the authority to enforce the terms of the will.
You must first file a petition for probate and the court will issue a court order naming you executor. The court will also issue Probate Letters, which is the document that gives you authority to collect assets and make transfers. Someone may be able to challenge your appointment, so it is best not to act according to the terms of the will until you have the official sanction of the court. The testator can name a person as executor in their will, or if there has been no prior appointment, then it is up to the court to appoint an executor.
One of the most important duties of an executor is to settle any debt and satisfy any creditors that the deceased may have. The probate process requires a lot of interaction with the probate court and filing of many legal documents, so it is recommended that an executor seek professional help from a probate lawyer. State law generally limits who can serve as executor, as they have a lot of responsibility and access to the deceased person's property. The court will appoint an estate appraiser who will be responsible for fixing the value of all assets in the estate.
If the deceased was collecting social security benefits, then it is up to the executor to notify the U. S. Social Security Administration of their death so that payments can be stopped. It is important to understand all responsibilities before committing to becoming an executor of an estate.
As executor, you have the right to receive payment for your work collecting, liquidating and transferring property and paying creditor claims. You will also deal with all assets belonging to the estate and ultimately, its beneficiaries. Finally, you are responsible for closing any miscellaneous matters that have remained pending since the death of the deceased. An attorney can review your rights, responsibilities and other procedures related to becoming an executor of an estate. As executor, you have a legal obligation to comply with the wishes of the deceased and act in their interest.
You must collect all assets belonging to them, from real property to movable property. If you become executor without a will, then it is a complex process and you should use professional services sparingly and understand what time commitment you must make instead.