THE ROLES OF THE EXECUTOR AND TRUSTEE
In California, it is possible for an individual to have an executor or a trustee or both as part of an estate planning team. An executor is someone who represents the estate in the event that it has to go through probate. The trustee is the person who is in charge of a trust, and this person may fulfill that role both before and after its creator passes.
However, once all assets have been transferred from a trust to a beneficiary, there is generally no need for the trustee. An executor has many different tasks to complete during the probate process. For instance, he or she will be responsible for paying bills, paying taxes and making sure that assets are distributed in a timely manner. In most cases, the executor is named in the deceased person's will. However, if no executor is named, a person may be appointed to the role or as the court to assume it.
The executor's role typically ends once the probate process has been completed. An executor may be an attorney or some other entity if there is no person capable or willing to act in such a capacity. Trustees may also be corporations as opposed to a single person. In some cases, multiple trustees will be needed.
Choosing an executor or trustee is generally considered to be among the most important parts of creating an estate plan. Having the right person or entity manage personal property may allow an individual to retain control of assets while alive and after passing. For parents, this could mean that children have money to go to school or buy a house later in life. It could also mean that special needs children are protected if a parent passes.