People who create an estate plan will usually set an executor and powers of attorney designations. For the people who are named in these positions, understanding what they mean is important. There are specific duties that must be handled properly. Failing to do these correctly can be costly for the heirs since mistakes may come with increased expenses and time.
It is best to understand your duties before you need to do them so that you are prepared. This is important if the person is your loved one since you will need to handle these tasks while you are still in shock about what’s going on.
Duties of an executor
An executor of an estate must find the heirs and assets of the estate. They also need to prepare and pay the final tax return for the estate and handle creditor claims. The will must be filed with the court and approved by the probate judge before the executor can distribute funds to the appropriate individuals or entities. It is possible for the probate process to be bypassed, but only if certain conditions are met through the use of trusts. In most cases, the executor will also handle the funeral expenses for the decedent.
Duties for a person with powers of attorney
The duties of a person who has powers of attorney occur before a person passes away, but only if the person is incapacitated. There are two primary duties that the powers of attorney handle. The one you are responsible for depends on the terms of the designation. You might be charged with making medical or financial decisions. In some cases, the same person is responsible for both.
When you are given the health care powers of attorney, you will make medical decisions for the person. There might be a living will or advance directive in place, so knowing the contents can be beneficial. You have to think about what your loved one would want instead of what you want. This can be challenging when there is a conflict.
A person who has the financial powers of attorney has to make financial decisions. This includes making investments, paying bills and similar matters. Just as is the case with the health care powers of attorney, you have to do what the person would have wanted and not what you’d do in the same situation.
Because these duties are often complex, many people will have questions or concerns. Some people choose to have legal representation to prevent costly errors. This gives them the opportunity to ask questions about how laws in California might impact the situation.