Counsel on the Responsibilities of Executors and Trustees in Sacramento, CA
Ensuring the protection and smooth distribution of assets upon death
Coping with the death of a loved one is hard enough without the legal responsibilities of carrying out your loved one’s will. At the Bedell Law Office, we offer straightforward guidance to executors and trustees and we work diligently to lighten the burden of probate and asset distribution. In addition to hiring legal guidance, an executor has several legal duties that often require them to transfer such duties to their attorney — making an executor’s choice in attorneys crucial. Jeffrey I. Bedell has more than a decade of experience in estate planning and asset distribution, offering professional counsel and peace of mind to executors and trustees.
What are the duties of an executor? What happens if I die without a will?
One of the best introductions to estate planning, creating a will requires that you name someone as an executor of your estate. The executor is given the responsibility of overseeing your property after death — compiling all assets and protecting them, paying off remaining debts or taxes and distributing the assets to beneficiaries as dictated in your will. The Bedell Law Office provides competent guidance through the many administrative duties of an executor, including:
- Filing as an executor: The first step a potential executor must take is to file a petition with the Superior Court of California, stating that an executor has been named in the will. The deceased’s will is filed along with the petition and a letter to heirs informing them of an executor hearing.
- Paying estate debts: If debts remain on the deceased’s estate and the will has insufficient funds to pay the debts, the state of California holds the executor responsible for producing the funds.
- Inventorying assets: The executor is required to produce an inventory of all assets in the estate of the deceased. It’s important that this inventory be compiled in a thorough manner.
- Distributing assets: Once the inventory is established, the executor must oversee the distribution of all assets as set forth in the will. If property is valued at less than $100,000, it can be distributed without needing to pass through the probate process.
While the absence of a will means that an executor has not been established, someone must assume the same responsibilities of an executor. If you die without a will in California, you are said to have died intestate. Your assets are distributed through intestate succession, which varies depending on whether the decedent is married or unmarried. Protecting your assets with a will is highly prudent.
What are a trustee’s duties toward beneficiaries?
A trustee, or legal owner of a property as dictated by a trust, has fiduciary obligations to the beneficiaries of the trust. While the beneficiary does not legally own the property in the trust, they may use the property without actually owning it. The trustee must not take advantage of a conflict of interest or profit from their fiduciary position, which is prohibited in the trustee-beneficiary relationship. In fact, if the trustee ignores his or her duties to serve in the beneficiary’s best interests the beneficiary can attempt to prove a breach of a trustee’s fiduciary duties if the trustee ignores his or her duties to serve in the beneficiary’s best interests. At Bedell Law Office, we have experience handling all types of trusts and ensuring trustees don’t mismanage assets.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney
The Bedell Law Office provides a client-centered approach to estate planning. We clarify all responsibilities and fiduciary duties of executors and trustees to help reduce the hardship of asset distribution. Call 916.473.1067 or contact us online for your free initial consultation. We respond within 24 hours.