Crucial differences between Executor of a Will & Trustee

An executor of a Will and Trustee of a Trust have distinct legal responsibilities and there are major legal liabilities at stake when confusing these two different roles. Let’s explore the differences.

What does an executor of a Will do?

If your loved one passed away with a Will, then an executor is named within the document or appointed by the court. The executor of a Will carries out the terms of a Will and is responsible for managing the  estate’s probate.

The named executor of a Will must submit the Will to probate court, along with a petition asking the court to open the California probate process, where management and distribution of assets are overseen by the court.

An executor of a Will may be expected to perform duties such as:
  • Taking care of your loved one’s financial obligations
  • Representing the estate for legal purposes
  • Managing the affairs and expenses of the estate
  • Contacting government institutions and issuing notifications
  • Filing final tax returns for your loved one

If you don’t feel confident in carrying out these tasks effectively, you may hire a professional to help. Contact us today to schedule an in-person, Zoom, or phone consultation. 

If most of your loved one’s assets were held in a Trust before they died, then the executor’s role is limited.

What does a Trustee of a Trust do?

The Trustee of a Trust carries out the terms of a Trust and is named in Trust documents. The Trustee usually has to agree to act the role and assumes all duties and responsibilities outlined in both the California probate code and the Trust document.

The Trustee can take over management of the Trust without court intervention and are the legal owner of Trust assets.

The Trustee role comes many responsibilities including:
  • Managing assets in the Trust
  • Tax filings for the Trust
  • Distributing Trust assets, as relayed in the terms of the Trust
  • Communicating regularly with beneficiaries

Acting as a Trustee is complex and you may be personally liable. For further assistance in carrying out your duties, our Trust attorneys are here to help. Contact us today to schedule an in-person, Zoom, or phone consultation.

What Do We Do as California Estate Planning Attorney Specialists?

The lawyers and staff at CunninghamLegal help people plan for some of the most difficult times in their lives; then we guide them when those times come.

Make an appointment to meet with CunninghamLegal for California Estate Planning and Trust Administration. We have offices throughout California, and we offer in-person, phone, and Zoom appointments. Just call (866) 988-3956 or book an appointment online.

Please also consider joining one of our free online Estate Planning Webinars.

We look forward to working with you!

Best, Jim

James Cunningham Jr., Esq.

Founder, CunninghamLegal

At CunninghamLegal, we guide savvy, caring families in the protection and transfer of multi-generational wealth.

Executor of a Will California

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