The Responsibilities Of Probate Executors And Administrators

William Sweeney

During a California probate, the person handling the estate is called the "executor" if there is a will, or the "administrator" if there is no will or no executor is named in the will. As an executor or administrator, you will have a number of duties and actions to consider:

  • You are a fiduciary, which means that you have a duty to act in the best interests of the estate.
  • You may not take advantage of your position for personal profit.
  • You must keep the funds of the estate in a separate, well-marked bank account and do regular accountings to the court. It is your duty to list, document and collect the decedent's assets.
  • It is your duty to keep everything current and "ship shape" as if you were the decedent.

A Probate Attorney Can Help You Understand The Role Of An Executor Or Administrator

As the executor or administrator, you must file a petition for probate and give notice to the appropriate parties of the hearing date. Also, the notice of the petition to administer the estate must be published in a newspaper. Proof of the publication must be filed with the court before the hearing on the petition for probate is held.

A number of additional specific actions are expected of an executor or administrator:

  • The executor or administrator must prepare an inventory and appraisal of the estate's assets. Estates are appraised by California probate referees, who are appointed by the state controller to determine the fair market value of the asset. The fair market value includes mortgages and other debts, which can result in an appraisal of the property that is higher than the equity that the deceased owned in the property.
  • The executor or administrator must give notice to the creditors to let them know they may file claims against the estate.
  • The executor or administrator must inventory all outstanding debts by going through files, bills, emails, statements, etc.
  • The executor or administrator must pay the debts of the estate and, if short on funds, sell assets to be able to cover the debts. The executor or administrator pays or settles any bills, rent, mortgage and utilities to ensure that the decedent's estate is protected throughout the process.
  • The executor or administrator is also responsible to file tax returns on behalf of the estate.
  • The executor or administrator prepares and files a Final Accounting and Petition for Final Distribution, and serves notice to all interested parties.
  • The executor or administrator appears at a final hearing and carries out the distribution approved by the court.
  • The executor or administrator applies for final discharge.

Understand Your Role As The Personal Representative By Contacting An Experienced Probate Lawyer

To learn more about the responsibilities of an executor or administrator in Riverside County, San Bernardino County or elsewhere, contact me, William Sweeney by calling 800-575-9610 or locally at 760-989-4820. If you prefer to reach me via email, take a moment to complete an online contact form, and I will respond promptly.