If a friend approaches you and asks you to serve as the executor of his or her estate, there are some issues you will need to think about before you accept this position. While simply being asked means that the friend considers you trustworthy enough to serve in this important role, you should resist the urge to accept right away. As executor, it will be your job to manage the probate process correctly. Here are some brief points you need to know about this process before you agree.
The property people leave behind after they die is collectively referred to as an estate. The probate estate is comprised of specific types of property that the individual owns in his or her name alone. As the executor, it will be your job to manage this property and make sure it is properly transferred to new owners.
Anyone who makes a will can decide to change at any point. If you are named as executor you don’t necessarily need to have the original will in your possession, but you will want to know where it is located. You will also want to have a good idea of what kinds of property will be included in the estate. If you haven’t already done so, ask your friend to create a letter of instruction. This letter will include the important details about the probate property and where it is located that the will won’t necessarily have.
In California, the executor of an estate is entitled to compensation. An attorney who assists an executor in performing his or her duties is also entitled to compensation from the estate. The executor does not have to pay the attorney out of personal funds.
Due to the high level of responsibility to which an executor is held by the law, it is generally a foolish idea for an executor to attempt to navigate the probate process alone. It would be best to retain the services of an experienced and qualified probate attorney to assist with the duties. If an executor makes a mistake in performing probate duties, he or she could be liable to the beneficiaries for any damages that result.