What are the Executor/Personal Representative’s Duties in a California Probate?
In essence, the executor / personal representative is charged with carrying out the instructions as set forth in a will. In the absence of a will, he or she must distribute estate assets in an equitable manner.
Generally, the personal representative secures the assets, collects any monies owed, assesses and pays the debts, and distributes the assets — but it’s really not quite that simple…..
The personal representative must:
- Secure the assets. The first duty is to locate the decedent’s assets and secure them safely. This could involve moving valuables to a safe deposit box or securing real property. In the case of real property, it will also be the executor’s duty to maintain the property and pay its ongoing expenses, such as utilities, insurance, etc.
- Receive payments due the estate, including interest, dividends, and other income such as unpaid salary, vacation pay, or company benefits.
- Set up an estate account to hold money due the estate.
- Value or appraise the estate’s assets.
This would include the value of any real property, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, investment accounts, antiques, jewelry, paintings and other collectibles, plus household furnishings.
- Sell those assets necessary to provide funds for estate obligations, to follow instructions in the will, or to facilitate distribution to heirs. This would include real property, along with household furnishings, collections, etc.
- Keep careful accounting of both valuations and money received in the sale of assets.
- Give official legal notice to creditors and potential creditors of the probate proceedings and give deadlines for creditors to file claims, according to California law.
- Investigate the validity of any claims against the estate.
- Pay funeral bills, outstanding debts, and valid claims.
- Notify government agencies such as Social Security and the post office.
- Cancel credit cards and other credit accounts.
- File tax returns and pay both income and estate taxes.
- After receiving permission from the court, distribute estate funds /property to heirs in accordance with the will.
- File receipts for distribution and wrap up closing details for the estate.