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Being a fiduciary

California residents who have been designated as an executor of an estate have been given significant responsibilities in the handling of a decedent's assets. There are certain steps that they have to take to ensure that they administer the assets according to the decedent's wishes.

Executors and trustees should fully review and understand the decedent's will or trust so that they know to whom the assets will distributed, which assets will go to each beneficiary and when and if there are any co-fiduciaries. The will and trust will also detail the specific powers of the fiduciary and which assets should be applied to expenses and taxes.

For the proper management of estate assets, it is important that the fiduciary quickly secure all of the assets and have them appraised. There are certain assets that can be immediately accessed if the requirements have been met. Assets like insurance policies may require the filing of a claim. Tangible assets, such as vehicles, jewelry, household furniture, collectibles and artwork, should be evaluated by a professional appraiser, as should real estate.

Another one of a fiduciary's duties is to ensure that outstanding bills and expenses associated with the management of the estate are paid. A fiduciary is also responsible for notifying creditors, in writing if required, if there is to be a delay in payment. Complications may arise if certain bills are not paid as soon as possible.

An attorney can assist fiduciaries with the administration of an estate. The attorney may provide guidance regarding the payment of certain bills as well as advice on preparing and filing required tax returns.

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