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Dos & Don'ts for Executor of Estate

Dos and Don’ts for the Executor or Administrator of an Estate in California

Executors and administrators are court-appointed personal representatives of the estates of individuals who have passed away. To that end, they are tasked with a number of duties and responsibilities, and they are held to a strict fiduciary standard with regard to the actions they take in carrying out those duties.

If you have a loved one who has passed away, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with a qualified California probate administration attorney as soon as practicable. Your attorney will assist you with the extremely complex probate administration process from beginning to end, and will serve as a trusted advisor on whatever legal issues may arise.

If you’ve been nominated by the decedent’s will to serve as the Executor of an estate or have a loved one who has passed away without a will — and you have minimal or no experience handling probate administration matters — you may be feeling a bit lost and a bit nervous. These are perfectly normal reactions, as the failure to adequately perform your duties as Executor or Administrator of an estate can lead to personal liability.

Consider the following dos and don’ts when it comes to being the Executor or Administrator of an estate in California.

Don’t Make Payments Without California Court Approval

Executors and Administrators must inventory estate assets, communicate with creditors and taxing authorities, pay taxes and debts of the decedent, make payments for various services (— such as professional appraisals, tax preparers, and attorneys) — and, eventually, distribute the estate assets to the rightful beneficiaries. Failure to adequately accomplish these tasks may result in personal liability for breach of fiduciary duty.

It’s important to note, however, that Executors and Administrators cannot make payments and distributions without first securing court approval. In addition, special procedures must be followed when selling or liquidating estate assets.

Securing court approval for routine expenses or sale of assets can slow things down considerably. If you wish to avoid having to obtain court approval for every payment or, asset management decision, then you can request that the probate court grant you full powers as the estate representative. If the request is granted, the need to obtain court approval for most such actions can be avoided.

Don’t Act as the Executor Before a Formal Appointment in California

Being nominated as Executor in a loved one’s Will is often considered an honor. However, you may not move forward with your duties until you have been formally appointed by the court. In California, the fact that the Will names an Executor is not — in and of itself — a guarantee that the court will appoint the named individual as Executor. The court must still “vet” you to ensure that you can handle the responsibilities at issue.

Do Identify and Notify All Creditors and Beneficiaries in CA

The probate process in California is designed to ensure that all creditors and beneficiaries secure what they are entitled to receive from a decedent’s estate. As the Executor or Administrator, you must give creditors and beneficiaries the opportunity to engage in the process — It is your duty to notify all known creditors and beneficiaries regarding the passing of the deceased individual. You are also obligated to provide certain specifics regarding the probate hearing process.

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Contact an Experienced North Hills Probate Administration Attorney for Further Guidance on Being Executor or Administrator of an Estate in CA

Executors and Administrators are tasked with an enormous range of duties and responsibilities when closing out an estate. As such, it’s worth consulting with an experienced San Fernando Valley probate administration attorney who can provide professional and effective representation for navigating the twists and turns that define the California probate process.

Here at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman, I have over four decades of experience representing Executors and Administrators and providing truly comprehensive probate administration services in North Hills, Northridge, Santa Clarita, and everywhere else in CA. I understand that the various expectations imposed on Executors in California can be confusing, and to that end, I make sure that my clients understand exactly what they need to do to successfully complete the probate process.

Call (818) 892-7093 today to schedule a free consultation with the skilled California probate administration attorneys at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman in North Hills, CA. I look forward to assisting you.

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