Retirement Benefits

Do You Need an Executor for Your Estate?

Close-up of signing a contract with shallow depth of field.

Have you ever thought about what would happen to your estate or assets in the event of your passing? It’s difficult to think about this, but it’s important to be prepared. Perhaps right now is a good time to think about selecting an executor.

What’s an executor? It’s the person you appoint to carry out your will or trust. The executor, sometimes called an estate representative, is responsible for managing your estate from the time of death until your assets are distributed. It’s a time-consuming job, and one that requires making complex financial decisions.

When selecting an executor, it’s important to choose someone who is up to the task and that you know is trustworthy—not simply your closest relative. You should also name a successor executor, just in case the first person is unwilling or unable to serve.

Your executor will need to know:

  • Location of original will or trust and financial records.
  • Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of professional advisers (e.g., attorney, financial professional).
  • Description and amount of assets and debts.
  • Contents of will or trust and anticipated bequests.
  • Information about employer benefits.

Duties of an executor include:

  • Locating your original will or trust and financial records.
  • Identifying assets and debts.
  • Opening an estate checking account.
  • Probating the will (if applicable).
  • Liquidating assets as directed by the will or trust (if applicable).
  • Paying bills and taxes.
  • Notifying beneficiaries of their interest in the estate.
  • Applying for your life insurance and/or employee benefits.
  • Distributing bequests to heirs.
  • Closing the estate account.

Remember that your executor will have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the assets of your estate. Be sure you select your executor wisely. For more information, visit the Judicial Branch of California’s Wills, Estates, and Probates webpage.

CalPERS Special Power of Attorney

A CalPERS special power of attorney allows you to designate a representative or agent, known as your attorney-in-fact, to conduct your retirement affairs. Should you become unable to act on your own behalf, your designated attorney-in-fact will be able to perform important duties concerning your CalPERS business. For more information, visit our website and review our publication CalPERS Special Power of Attorney (PUB 30) (PDF).