Wills, trusts and powers of attorney created by California residents contain the instructions they want carried out after death or in the event of incapacitation. The people they choose to carry out their wishes need to be trustworthy and aware of the creator’s wishes. A comprehensive estate plan will not only outline an individual’s instructions but also identify the people who will be responsible for carrying out the plan.
The executor of a will is the one who pays the decedent’s bills (including any taxes), gathers assets and distributes the remaining assets of the estate to heirs and beneficiaries in accordance with the will. If there are minor children involved, a guardian can be appointed in the will to care for the children in the absence of the parent. The guardian can also be responsible for managing any assets left to provide for the children.
If a person’s estate includes one or more trusts, the trustee will be the one who administers the trust and distributes its assets according to the provisions of the trust. Powers of attorney can also be drawn up for both financial and health care matters. These documents are “activated” when a person is either temporarily or permanently unable to make decisions him or herself due to some sort of incapacitation, such as an illness or accident.
It is not necessary to appoint the same person to fulfill all of these roles in an estate plan. A different person or persons can be named in each document depending on the needs of the individual. One of the most important factors is that the California resident creating the plan needs to trust that the person or persons chosen for each role are willing to serve, trustworthy and understand what the plan’s creator is attempting to achieve.