Law & Legal & Attorney Wills & trusts

How to Be an Executor in California

    • 1). Locate the will or trust documents of the decedent. The simplest, fastest and easiest way to be an executor in California is to have the decedent explicitly name you as executor in an estate planning document. This will allow you to avoid the process of having the probate court determine that you should be the executor. You will need a copy of this authorization to proceed as an executor.

    • 2). Make an accounting evaluation of the decedent's financial interests and obligations. If you discussed being an executor before the decedent passed away, you most likely discussed the location of important financial documents. To properly process the estate, including filing a final tax return, you will need to locate and value all financial interests of the decedent.

    • 3). Request several original copies of the death certificate. You will generally need an original copy of a death certificate for any financial transaction you request that involves moving or distributing money.

    • 4). File tax returns. The Internal Revenua Service requires executors to file income tax returns for the period between the start of the year and when the decedent died. The State of California will also require a state income tax return.

    • 5). Locate beneficiaries. One of your primary functions as a California executor will be to distribute the decedent's assets according to his final instructions. The first step will be to count the number of beneficiaries and locate them.

    • 6). Divide the estate as instructed. Some decedents will leave specific instructions as to how to distribute specific assets. Others may ask you to divide estate assets equally among living beneficiaries.

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