California Executor Duties

By Alexis Writing
Executors, wills, a death
Thai funeral image by Adrian Hillman from

An executor is an individual who is selected to carry out the terms of another person’s will. In the instance that the testator--the person who wrote out the will--passes away, it is the responsibility of the executor of the will to ensure that all the wishes of the deceased are honored. In addition to employing a lawyer, an executor has numerous other tasks. She must, often, transfer some of her duties to the attorney and is responsible for compensating the attorney, once the requirements of the will are satisfied. In California, the executor also has various legal duties.

Filing as Executor

Before an individual may legally be called the executor of an estate, she is required to file a petition with the Superior Court of California. This petition states that an individual has been selected in the will of the deceased as the executor of the estate and requests the permission of the court to be chosen as the official executor. The will of the deceased is filed along with the petition, as is a letter to all of the heirs mentioned in the will. By so doing, the executor essentially alerts relatives of the individual who has passed away that an executor hearing is to be held.

Pay Estate Debts

If the deceased has any outstanding debts on his estate, it is the responsibility of the executor to pay off these debts. If not enough money is left in the person’s will to cover such debts, the executor in California is responsible for coming up with the money. However, the executor need not necessarily use money out-of-pocket to pay the debts off. The testator, for instance, may be in possession of property or real estate that may be sold off to pay for the estate debts.

Inventory and Distribution

In the state of California, an executor is required to make an inventory of all the assets in an individual’s estate. Once estate debts are paid in full and all creditors are contacted, the remainder of the estate is to be distributed to the heirs, as per the terms of the will. It is the executor’s responsibility, at this point, to ensure that all of the heirs mentioned in the will receive their just compensation. After assets are distributed, the executor may oversee the filing of any requisite tax returns on the estate.