When a family member dies, someone has to take control of and appropriately distribute the estate. This can be an unpleasant task, especially if the deceased family member was a parent, grandparent or other close relative. Although no one really wants to consider financial affairs at such a sad time, it is better to sort things out early in order to avoid calls from creditors wanting to know when they will be paid. California residents may not know the law regarding debt collection after death.
If the deceased person left a will, he or she most likely named a person as an executor or personal representative. If no will exists, an administrator can be appointed by a probate court. It could be a surviving spouse, a child or another person competent to handle the affairs. An executor or administrator is bound by law to act in good faith to handle the estate openly and honestly and attempt to carry out the wishes of the deceased.