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California Probate, Will & Trust Lawyer > Blog > Probate > Mistakes To Avoid When Serving as an Executor (For 2024)

Mistakes To Avoid When Serving as an Executor (For 2024)


When people draft wills, they usually name someone in the will as their executor. An executor is the party responsible for carrying out the probate process on behalf of a deceased individual. Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone passes away that involves, among other things, the validation of the will (if one is available), payment of debts and taxes, and distribution of estate assets to beneficiaries. If you are named executor of a decedent’s will, you are most likely feeling very honored. After all, it shows the testator had confidence in you. However, before diving into your duties and probating the decedent’s will, there are several things you need to know. In this article, we discuss some of the mistakes you need to avoid when serving as an executor.

  1. Missing Deadlines

When it comes to the probate process, time is of the essence. While it is understandable that you might need time to grieve if you were close to the deceased, you mustn’t delay taking action. You should ensure you petition the court for administration of the estate within the set timeframe. According to California law, you are required to petition the court for administration of the estate within 30 days after you find out about the death of the decedent and that you are named executor in the decedent’s Will. If you fail to do so, you could lose your position as executor, and someone else may be appointed. Once the probate process begins, be keen on ensuring you meet all the deadlines set by the court.

  1. Not Giving Proper Notice

One of your most essential duties as an executor is to notify beneficiaries and creditors of the probate process. When giving notice to beneficiaries and creditors, you must ensure you do so correctly. Typically, the notice must be published in a local newspaper. There is also specific information that must be included in the notice.

  1. Incomplete Inventory

It is vital that you thoroughly document the decedent’s estate assets. If you don’t take a thorough inventory, it may lead to, among other things, unpaid debts and incomplete distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

  1. Lack of Communication

If you don’t communicate with beneficiaries, creditors, and other interested parties, it can lead to disputes or misunderstandings, which can, in turn, delay the probate process. For instance, ensure beneficiaries are updated on the progress of the administration to avoid disputes.

  1. Distributing Assets Too Early

After someone dies, beneficiaries may expect to receive their inheritances quickly. Beneficiaries can be impatient. They may become pushy. One of the worst mistakes you can make as an executor is distributing assets to beneficiaries too early. Distributing the decedent’s estate assets too early can result in various complications and legal consequences. For instance, if you distribute assets before all debts are settled, there may be insufficient assets to cover the debts. If this happens, you could be held personally liable for those debts. Also, distributing assets too early may be considered a breach of fiduciary duty.

  1. Not Hiring an Attorney

Finally, you should avoid handling the probate process without legal help. Probate is a complex process. An attorney can guide you through this process.

Contact The Probate Guy

If you need help navigating the California probate process, contact the skilled and dedicated California probate lawyer, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – today to schedule a telephonic consultation.

Southern California Probate Lawyer Serving Orange, Riverside, Anaheim, Whittier & Beyond.

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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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