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Estate planning 101: the executor, representing your voice

Some people have little to no assets, so they do not go through the estate planning process. Most people in California do have assets, though. It may only be their home, some savings or art, but nonetheless, they are assets. If you do not make plans for your estate, you leave it to the courts, which can be heavy for your family. An estate plan, on the other hand, leaves it up to the executor who represents your voice.

What is an executor?

The executor of an estate is the person who distributes the assets of the deceased and maintains them in the meantime. Before the person is officially named as the executor, they must agree to the position. Since this position requires time and effort, it is not uncommon for a third-party to be named, such as an accountant or a lawyer.

Duties of an executor

While the person is still alive, the executor should understand the wishes of their client. The bulk of an executor’s duties occur when the client passes away. Those duties include ordering the death certificates and mailing them to creditors, banks and insurance companies. The will is filed and phone calls to the beneficiaries must be made. All the inventory must be accounted for and the property as well as assets must be maintained until they are dispersed.

How to get started

The best way to get started is to speak with an estate planning professional. The sooner the better because death is not an event that can be planned. Even if you have a doctor’s diagnosis, it is not always accurate.

Those who believe their family member is losing their capacity to make decisions should act quickly, too. Estate planning becomes more difficult if they begin to lose their memory, for example. An estate planning lawyer can map out the next steps for you so that obstacles are removed.

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