When it comes to administering a California estate, perhaps the most important person is the executor, who may also be referred to as the administrator of the estate or even as the personal representative.
While technically speaking executors are only involved when an estate goes through probate, many of their responsibilities and duties are shared by administrators of trusts., so this post can be helpful in that context as well.
Basically, an executor acts like a quarterback or coach if one were to compare estate administration to a football game. The object of estate administration is to collect all the assets of the deceased person, pay off all valid claims, including debts and taxes, and then distribute the balance according to the deceased person's will or, in the absence of a will, applicable California law.
It is the executor who has to figure out how to accomplish this and take all the practical steps necessary to do so. This can include rather routine things like transferring title to a vehicle or to a bank account to rather complicated steps like suing for money owed to the estate or defending against a lawsuit.
The executor is ultimately responsible for the property of the estate and for making sure it gets correctly handled. He or she also is answerable to the court for his or her actions and will be expected from time to time to file accountings and other reports.
As this post summarizes, under California law, an executor has several listed responsibilities that are very important. Especially since the stakes are often high, an executor in the San Jose area may wish to have the help of an experienced estate administration attorney in carrying out these responsibilities.