The administration of a decedent’s estate is a vital process that ensures compliance with the decedent’s will. The probate court has the sole authority to empower estate administrators to serve in this role. In addition, the state’s probate code places a duty on this person to act reasonably and in the interests of the estate.
As a result, it is understandable that people who have never been executors may be intimidated by the process. They may wonder what the law says concerning their duties and how they can properly fulfill those responsibilities. Alternatively, heirs and potential heirs may wonder if a representative is acting properly and what legal recourse they may have in the event that an administrator fails to uphold their responsibilities. A Tustin estate administration lawyer may be able to help both personal representatives and heirs better understand their rights and duties under the law.
What Must an Estate Administrator Do?
An estate administrator plays a crucial role during the probate process. This individual has the sole power to take temporary possession of a decedent’s property, pay the decedent’s debts, and distribute the remaining property to the named beneficiaries.
While this may seem like a straightforward process, state law provides strict rules concerning the actions of personal representatives. For example, California Probate Code § 9600 states that a representative must act with ordinary care and diligence when administering to an estate. In other words, an estate administrator must act reasonably in the eyes of other parties when serving in this role.
Additionally, personal representatives must act solely in the interests of the estate. This means that any action they take must be to preserve the value of the property in the estate. A Tustin attorney could explain to a personal representative the obligations they have during estate administration.
What Happens if a Personal Representative Fails in their Duties?
There is no doubt that state law places a heavy burden on personal representatives to properly administer an estate. In fact, either the court or heirs may act if they believe that this person has not acted appropriately.
The consequences of these accusations can be significant. At a minimum, the probate court could replace a party serving as an estate administrator. In the most extreme situations, the members of the estate could sue the representative and hold them personally liable for all damage that resulted from the failure to properly maintain the estate.
A Tustin lawyer could help nominated personal representatives to take the necessary steps to fulfill their obligations during the estate administration process. They could also represent the interests of members of the estate if they believe that malfeasance has occurred and need to seek out appropriate remedies.
Contact a Tustin Estate Administration Attorney to Learn More
The proper administration of estates requires the help of competent personal representatives. These parties receive substantial powers from probate courts to take possession of property, pay debts, and distribute the remaining assets. In exchange for this power, representatives must act only in the interest of the estate.
A Tustin estate administration lawyer may be able to help you if you have recently received an appointment as a personal representative. They could explain your job, suggest steps to fulfill your obligations under the law, and help submit reports to the court. An attorney could also help heirs and estate members who believe that an estate administrator has acted inappropriately by demanding fair remedies for their losses. Reach out to our legal team today if you are met with challenges during the estate administration process.