An essential part of estate planning is nominating a willing and competent executor. An executor has the power to carry out the terms of a will after a person’s death by taking control of property, paying debts, and ensuring the proper distribution of their assets.
An executor must take their obligations seriously. However, most people have never served in this role before and often need legal guidance. An Orange County estate administration lawyer could help executors understand their functions under the law. In other situations, a skilled estate planning attorney could serve as the executor personally to ensure that a testator’s last wishes become a reality.
How is an Executor Appointed?
After a testator’s death, their estate will enter probate. The purpose of probate is to authenticate a decedent’s will. To initiate the probate process, interested parties must submit a decedent’s will to the court. Often, wills should nominate an executor. However, if it does not, the court will appoint a personal representative for the estate.
The Duties of Executors
The role of an executor is to ensure that the estate performs its functions. First, the estate must pay all relevant debts, often requiring the creation of an estate bank account to hold funds. Second, the estate will distribute funds and property according to the terms of the will. Distributing funds typically requires the sale of assets or the transference of real estate ownership.
According to California Probate Code §8404, executors have a fiduciary duty to act in good faith. This obligation includes settling the estate while sacrificing as little of the value of the assets as possible. To reinforce these responsibilities, executors must read and sign a form that outlines what is expected of them. An executor who fails to carry out their duty may face the court as well as lawsuits by heirs of an estate.
An experienced attorney in Orange County could provide advice and instructions to parties named as executors. Likewise, a legal representative could examine the language of the will, interpret the relevant laws, and recommend steps to take when administering the estate.
Nominating an Attorney as an Estate Executor
Executors play a vital role in the proper administration of an estate. For this reason, individuals often nominate an executor with experience in the law and in handling an estate. In specific situations, an estate administration lawyer in Orange County may be willing to serve as the executor of an estate.
Legal counsel can make effective executors because they understand the laws that govern the rights and responsibilities of executors. Likewise, attorneys can interpret the court’s orders and take the necessary steps to pay creditors and distribute assets and property.
Let an Orange County Estate Administration Attorney Help You
Every estate needs an executor. Whether a person comes into this role through a nomination in a will or takes on this burden due to a court order, an executor must perform their job responsibly to ensure a person’s wishes are honored.
An Orange County estate administration lawyer could provide essential help by explaining the role of an executor, identifying the necessary steps to fulfill obligations, and guide parties in the right direction. Contact a legal team member today to learn more about estate administration.