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California Probate, Will & Trust Lawyer > Blog > Probate > Do I Have To Serve As Executor?

Do I Have To Serve As Executor?


In California, after a person dies and leaves behind a Will, the executor is responsible for administering the deceased person’s estate as directed by the Will. If you recently lost a loved one and found out they named you in their Will as executor, you might feel obligated to accept the responsibility. Many people named by a deceased loved one as executor of a Will decide to take the job because they feel they don’t have a choice. However, the truth is that you do have a choice. Just because you are named in your deceased loved one’s Will as executor does not mean you have to accept the job. You should consider your willingness and capability to serve as executor before accepting to serve in that capacity. You are free to decline to be the executor of a deceased loved one’s estate.

Serving as the executor of a decedent’s Will is no small task. You must adhere to the terms of the Will while at the same time making sure you are abiding by the law. If you make a mistake, you could be held personally liable. Below is a look at some of the skills you need to serve as the executor of a decedent’s estate and what will happen if you refuse to serve as executor.

Skills You Need To Serve as Executor

Before you accept to serve as the executor of your deceased loved one’s estate, you want to ensure that you are willing and have what it takes to serve in that capacity. As stated above, serving as the executor of a decedent’s Will is not a small task. The executor of a decedent’s estate is required to take care of complex issues such as;

  • Notifying beneficiaries and creditors
  • Verifying and paying valid debts and expenses of the estate
  • Arranging for ancillary probate administration (if necessary)
  • Filing final accounting
  • Filing tax returns
  • Distributing inheritances to beneficiaries

The best executor is well-organized, careful, honest, committed to doing a good job, and patient. The best executor has leadership skills and is a good communicator. Leadership skills include the ability to work without being supervised, organizational skills, and strong time management. When it comes to communication, not only does an executor need to communicate with their attorney, but they also need to communicate with beneficiaries and creditors. Considering you have to possess all these skills while grieving the loss of your loved one, it is clear that serving as executor is no joke.

What Will Happen if You Refuse To Serve as Executor?

If you refuse to serve as the executor of your deceased loved one’s estate, someone else will take over. Usually, people name backup executors in their Wills. If a backup is named in the Will, you simply need to sign a document saying you do not wish to serve as executor. After you do that, the backup will take over. If no backup is named in the Will, the court will appoint someone to administer the estate.

Contact The Probate Guy for Legal Help

Did you recently discover that you are named as executor in your deceased loved one’s Will and need legal guidance? Contact the skilled and dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – today to schedule a free telephonic consultation.


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I love being a probate attorney. I love helping people through a very difficult time in their lives with the probate process. My practice focuses solely on probate matters. My job is to complete the probate process as efficiently and painlessly for my clients as possible. I have found that paying the upfront costs of probate adds unneeded stress, so I will advance all of the fees and costs for the probate. No money is required to complete the probate. I will be reimbursed at the end of the case when you receive your inheritance. Call me NOW to discuss your case for free.

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