When thinking about the future and making a plan to pass on assets, a California resident may consider who they want to name as beneficiaries and how to structure their estate plan. However, they may also want to closely consider who they’ll name as the executor of the will. After all, the executor can play a critical role in closing an estate and ensuring distributions are made as intended.
Some may think that an executor is only responsible for telling the heirs what they will inherit. However, this individual must also tie up loose ends, deal with estate debt and bring the will through the probate process. One of the more important yet potentially complex duties is paying off debts associated with the estate before disbursing bequests to beneficiaries. The executor will need to find estate assets and calculate their value. In some cases, assets initially intended for other purposes may need to go to pay off mortgages, credit card bills and other liabilities. The executor will also need to deal with final income taxes as well as any federal or state estate taxes that may be due.
In addition, executors must file the will through the probate court and guide it through the process. The court will affirm the executor’s formal authority over the distribution of the estate, but in some complex or large cases, the court may also wish to validate and oversee the will.
Even property transfer can be more complex than expected, such as when real estate transactions are involved. When making an estate plan, naming the will’s executor is a serious task. An estate planning attorney may help a client develop a plan that includes selecting the right executor for the task.