California’s probate laws require naming an individual in your will to serve as your personal representative or estate’s executor. If you do not name anyone or the person you name is unavailable, the probate court may appoint someone to settle your affairs.
As noted on the Superior Court of California website, personal representatives owe a fiduciary duty. You may wish to consider naming an individual who is trustworthy, uses careful judgment and reliably acts in good faith.
What does an executor do with a will?
After your death, your representative’s first task is submitting your will to probate court. When filed, your executor takes on a duty of care to act in your beneficiaries’ best interests. He or she may also open a checking account on behalf of your estate and use it to pay creditors or taxes.
Representatives have the responsibility of gathering assets in a will. If you own property, for instance, your representative may need to locate its title and verify that it does not have liens against it. If your property requires valuing to arrange for a sale and to divide the proceeds, your executor may hire an appraiser to evaluate its worth.
What other tasks may a personal representative take on?
California’s Probate Code requires an estate’s executor to notify creditors that the debtor has died. If a creditor files a claim to collect unpaid balances from your estate, your representative may negotiate a settlement.
In some cases, the court may ask executors to take out a bond or an insurance policy to protect the will’s beneficiaries. If you named someone with limited budgeting or negotiating skills, the bond may reduce the risk of mismanaged assets.