Serving as an executor of a will or as an administrator of an estate with no will can be a complicated and demanding responsibility. This is especially true for someone working as an executor or an administrator for the first time. Many legal responsibilities are imposed upon a person who is administrating an estate. In addition to the procedural requirements of the probate court, an executor must also deal with the pressure exerted by family members who are often anxious to receive their inheritances. Nevertheless, an executor or administrator must resist any urge to take a shortcuts to please family members. If you are a personal representative, you need the professional advice of a qualified probate attorney to help you through the myriad of responsibilities in settling a probate estate.

Executor Duties

The primary duties of an executor (if there Is a will) or administrator (if there is no will), as relevant, as the court appointed personal representative of the estate are as follows:

  1. Firstly, collecting, inventorying and safeguarding the estate’s assets;
  2. Notifying all reasonably ascertainable creditors;
  3. Settling the debts and taxes of the estate;
  4. Preparing an accounting and court petition requesting a order approving the administration of the estate and the distribution of the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the will or heirs if there is no will;
  5. Distributing the assets and filing receipts.

A personal representative must follow the legal procedures when handling the estate’s assets.  Otherwise the personal representative can be held personally liable for any mistakes they make. A common mistake is distributing assets before paying important prioritized debts, such as taxes. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes that an executor can make and ensure a smoother administration of an estate.

Law Office of Dennis A. Fordham

Dennis A. Fordham is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law.  Furthermore, he can assist you to get appointed as the personal representative of a decedent’s estate. Don’t try to handle a probate on your own. The Law Office of Dennis A. Fordham is ready to provide the help and advice that you may need.