Most California estates will go through a legal process in order to close them unless the deceased parties planned ahead to avoid this step. This legal process is known as probate, and it involves many actions in order to ensure that the decedent's final affairs have been properly addressed. Commonly, a person will have appointed an executor in his or her will to handle these actions.
All estates need someone to take charge in settling final affairs after a person dies. Typically, a person can name an executor to handle the steps associated with any necessary probate proceedings. However, individuals named to this position may worry that their lives may not allow them to properly handle the tasks or that acting as executor could put them at financial risk.
In a best case scenario, a loved one would ask another person to act as executor of his or her estate before simply appointing the person. Because California probate can take a considerable amount of time and effort, having someone willing to take on the role may prevent additional hardships. Still, even a willing executor will have a great deal of responsibility to handle.
Probate technically means to "prove a will." When a person dies testate in California -- that is, with a will -- the will is filed in the probate court in the county courthouse. The filing and administrative work is done by the executor, who is the personal representative appointed in the will. When filing the will, the executor takes an oath to act as a faithful fiduciary in the interests of the estate during the probate process.