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Who Cannot Serve As A Personal Representative In California?


In California, a personal representative is an individual who has been entrusted to carry out the administration of a decedent’s estate. According to California Probate law, the individual named in a decedent’s will has the right to be appointed as a personal representative unless otherwise disqualified. If there is no will or a will does not mention an executor, the court appoints someone to serve as the personal representative. However, if it appears by the terms of a will that a decedent intended to have a particular person administer their estate, but they did not mention the person in their will, that person is entitled to appointment as a personal representative in the same way as if named as executor.

Who Cannot Serve as Personal Representative?

Even though the personal representative of a decedent’s estate does not have to be a financial or legal expert, they must possess crucial qualities that qualify them to serve in such a position. For example, a personal representative must be honest, impartial, loyal, and diligent. Also, a personal representative should be organized. It is crucial for a personal representative to possess these and many other qualities since the role of a personal representative comes with several significant responsibilities. For example, it is a personal representative’s duty to locate a decedent’s assets, pay off taxes and/or debts, and distribute assets to beneficiaries. Because of the importance of these duties, the California Probate Code disqualifies some people from serving as personal representatives.

So, who cannot serve as a personal representative in California? According to California Probate Code Section 8402, an individual is not competent to serve as a personal representative of a decedent’s estate in any of the following circumstances:

  1. The individual is a minor.
  2. The individual is appointed as a financial advisor of the estate or is otherwise unfit or incapable to execute the duties of a personal representative.
  3. The individual is not a U.S. resident.
  4. There are grounds for the removal of the individual from office under California Probate Code Section 8502.
  5. The individual is a surviving business partner of the decedent, and an interested person objects to the appointment.

However, if a person is named in a decedent’s will as executor or successor executor, they are eligible to serve as personal representative even if they are not a resident of the United States or they are a surviving business partner of the decedent and an interested person objects to the appointment.

When Does a Personal Representative’s Appointment Become Effective?

It is crucial to note that a person has no power to administer a decedent’s estate until their appointment as a personal representative becomes effective. According to California Probate Code Section 8400, the appointment of a personal representative becomes effective when the appointed person is issued letters. However, an individual named as an executor in a decedent’s will can pay funeral expenses and take necessary measures to maintain and preserve a decedent’s estate before their appointment becomes effective.

Contact a California Probate Lawyer

To learn more about the appointment of personal representatives in California or get help with the probate process, contact the dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy- today to schedule a telephonic consultation.

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