An executor is named in a will. The executor must perform a number of duties to estate. Generally, their job is settle the departed’s affairs. They will pay creditors from available assets, if possible. The will notify the beneficiaries and distribute assets to those beneficiaries in accordance with the provisions of the will.
The executor must have the original signed will in their possession. Typically, the writer of the will (testator) will notify their executor (or executors) of the location of the will. Such as a fire proof safe at the home or a safe deposit box at a bank. In California, the executor must have a key to the safe deposit box as well as provide the institution with a death certificate. It is important that the executor have access to the original because copies of the will are not legally valid. Important to note that copies of POA’s (power of attorney), advanced healthcare directives (AHCD), and HIPPA releases are valid. A testaor may chose to provide these to their executor so that they will have them in case of an emergency or the safe deposit box is not accessible (because it is a weekend or a holiday).
The executor has an obligation to notify those with an interest in the estate and the beneficiaries under the will. The executor must takes steps to gain control of assets, prevent waste, and obtain adequate insurance. The executor must compile a list of all of the decedent’s assets.
The executor must also compile a list of all of the decedent’s debts. All creditors must be notified so that they can make a claim on the estate. It is up to the executor to pay these debts. It can be complicated if little or no liquid assets exist in the estate and the executor must chose what assets to sell off to satisfy those debts.
The executor must maintain accurate records of all transactions. Some people chose to compensate their executor while others do not. The compensation must be approved by the court, and the amount of compensation depends on the complexity of the estate as well as time spent by the executor. Typically, if the person is going to inherit money through the will, they will often prefer not to be compensated as an executor because it is taxed to them like regular income. On the other hand, assets given through the will typically will not be subject to income tax.