One of the most common steps after a person passes away is to file the will or other estate documents with the probate court. Relatively soon after this point the appointed California executor should open a bank account for estate funds. This helps to ensure a firm line between the individual serving as the personal representative and matters associated with the estate.

This can become especially important if family members are involved in conflict or disputes over the validity of the estate or have concerns about this executor’s ability to meet their fiduciary duty. This is typically done by opening an estate account at a bank in the name of the estate itself. This allows the personal representative to write checks, to pay court costs, distribute monetary gifts to beneficiaries, deposit payments for items sold through the estate, and to pay the deceased person’s final bills.

A basic checking account is most appropriate for the vast majority of probate cases which usually take less than one year. In order to open any investment or bank account, however, you’ll need to obtain a taxpayer ID for the estate. You can apply for this for free online at and obtain an employer identification number.

Any funds from the deceased person’s bank accounts should be transferred to this account except for those that are named as payable on death bank accounts. Keeping good records of every transaction will minimize the possible liability associated with the executor.

Still need to write your will and name your California executor? Our Pasadena estate planning law firm can help.

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