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California Probate, Will & Trust Lawyer > Blog > Probate > What Are Executors Required To Disclose to Beneficiaries of a Will in California?

What Are Executors Required To Disclose to Beneficiaries of a Will in California?

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In California, after someone passes away, the executor of the Will plays a vital role in administering the estate through the probate process. Executors undertake many duties, including ensuring the decedent’s estate assets are divided among beneficiaries according to the decedent’s wishes. Part of an executor’s job is to ensure that they disclose certain information to beneficiaries of the Will. If an executor fails to disclose certain information to beneficiaries of a Will, the beneficiaries may petition the court to compel the executor to provide the information. Beneficiaries may also take other legal action, such as removing the executor from office. In this article, we discuss what executors are required to disclose to beneficiaries of a Will in California.

What Are an Executor’s Disclosure Responsibilities in California?

The executor is responsible for acting in the best interest of the decedent’s estate and its beneficiaries. Therefore, as part of their duties, an executor must ensure they disclose certain information to beneficiaries. An executor’s first responsibility as it pertains to disclosure is to identify, locate, and contact beneficiaries to notify them of their status as beneficiaries. This notification should be done in writing and typically includes providing the beneficiaries with a copy of the Will. Executors are required to undertake reasonable efforts to locate any missing beneficiaries. This may include contacting known relatives and associates, using professional search services, and publishing legal notices. Failure to locate and notify beneficiaries can have serious legal implications. It may also delay the administration of the estate.

Executors are tasked with identifying all of a decedent’s assets. Executors must locate all estate assets and make an inventory of the assets. The executor has a fiduciary duty to ensure that beneficiaries know the estate’s assets. Beneficiaries should be provided with an inventory of the estate assets, which may include real estate, personal property, bank accounts, and other valuables. Executors must also inform beneficiaries about estate debts. This could include loans, mortgages, or unpaid taxes. Beneficiaries need to be made aware of how the executor plans to address the decedent’s liabilities.

As the executor administers the decedent’s estate, they should keep beneficiaries updated on any decisions and transactions that affect the estate’s status and/or value. For example, they should notify beneficiaries when they sell off the decedent’s property to pay debts or bills. This provides transparency in the administration process. It helps maintain trust and allows beneficiaries to raise any concerns or objections if necessary, promoting fairness and accountability.

Additionally, executors must provide beneficiaries with a full accounting of the estate affairs. The following is some of the information that should be captured in the accounting;

  • The estate assets and their worth at the commencement of the accounting period
  • The value of any assets acquired during the accounting period
  • Net business income and losses
  • Gains and losses from asset sales
  • Details regarding each asset distribution
  • The assets and their worth at the end of the accounting period

If beneficiaries have concerns or questions, they can request additional information from the executor. When beneficiaries request additional information, executors must be forthcoming and responsive.

Contact The Probate Guy

If you are the beneficiary or executor of an estate in probate and need legal guidance, contact the dedicated California probate attorney, 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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