When serving as executor of an estate, you are responsible for identifying legitimate creditor claims. If you didn’t know better, you might accidently pay claims that aren’t due, such as student loans. The liability for student loans in canceled at death. If you’re responsible for settling an estate (or trust) be sure to consult a probate – estate planning attorney for good advice.
This is a list of common executor duties in California:
- Lodge the will and file a probate probate petition at the courthouse in the county where the decedent resided at his or her death.
- Do whatever the court orders.
- Identify, gather, appraise, manage, and protect all assets.
- Identify and pay legitimate creditor claims, not student loans.
- Communicate with beneficiaries.
- Work with needed professional advisors such as probate attorney and CPA.
- File and pay all appropriate tax returns such as last income tax return for decedent, estate income tax return, California inheritance tax return, and federal estate tax return.
- Distribute assets to beneficiaries as the court directs.
- Close estate with permission of the court.
Can I Just Carry Out the Executor Duties without Professional Advisor Assistance?
There is no law mandating that you have to hire a probate attorney, but theCalifornia law holds that an executor is personally liable for losses sustained by the estate and mistakes he or she makes. What if you paid a student loan bill that wasn’t due? Your personal assets are at risk.
Qualified and experienced probate attorneys are highly trained and carry malpractice insurance. They handle estates as part of their normal business practice.
It’s better to error on the conservative side, consult with a qualified and experienced probate attorney if you are the executor of an estate. Remember the student loan example.