Most people establish a last will and testament as a legal way to control how their assets are distributed and what happens to their estate after they die. One of the most powerful tools that a last will and testament gives you is the option to select an executor—the person who will be responsible for handling all of your requests and directives as set forth in your will. At the Evans Law Firm, Inc., our Marin County wills lawyers offer some tips and legal guidelines for those who are choosing an executor in their estate planning process.
Choosing an Executor
The ideal executor is an organized, responsible person with some skill in finances. Typically, this person is close enough to you and your family to know your financial status, your assets, and the family dynamic—including the temperaments and personalities that will be in play when the assets are divided. Selecting a person with strong ties to you adds an extra layer of protection to your will, especially if you have difficult or fractious family members and you are worried that they will cause some sort of ruckus.
In California, your executor that you have named in your will does not need to be a California resident, or a United States citizen. Any legal person can serve as an executor, including a California bank or trust, a friend, a spouse, a child, or a group of people acting jointly. Regardless of who is serving as the executor, the duties and responsibilities are the same. The executor must collect your assets, pay your expenses and your debits, and distribute the remaining assets to your beneficiaries per your will specifications.
Our Marin County wills lawyers recommend that you name a second executor in your will, just in case the first is unable to take over, or refuses to do so. You can also appoint two or more executors to serve jointly, as an extra method of ensuring that your will is properly executed. Although this option distributes the power to more than one party, there is sometimes a risk of a stalemate, if the two executors do not agree on interpretation and execution.
The Probate Code of California’s Constitution details the requirements for making a legal last will and testament, as well as the definition of a “personal representative,” or executor of said will. This representative is granted power under Section 7600, which handles the rules for taking temporary or full-time control or possession of a deceased person’s property.
No Will Situations
If you have not established a will, or have not chosen an executor, the courts will step in to resolve the issue. The nearest relative is the first in line with the right to serve as the representative for your estate, or to appoint someone else.
The Marin County wills lawyers at the Evans Law Firm, Inc., offer legal counsel, estate planning services, and court representation for anyone going through the process of estate planning or probate courts. Our lawyers are experienced in all areas of elder law, and are only one phone call away. For questions or a free, no-strings consultation regarding your situation, contact Ingrid Evans at 415.441.8669 or www.evanslaw.com today.