Consenting to Becoming an Estate Executor in California

An estate executor is an individual who has been assigned the role of managing the distribution of financial assets of an estate’s assets.

Posted on October 12, 2021 by Alex Gauthier
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If you've recently lost someone close to you and have been named as their estate executor, you might understandably be experiencing some confusion about what that means. We want to provide you with the information you will need to navigate the probate process as smoothly as possible.

Settling an estate can sometimes be a long and arduous process; in the worst cases, it can even take years if there’s a contested will.

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How Does One Become an Estate Executor?

An estate executor is an individual who has been assigned the role of managing the distribution of financial assets of an estate’s assets in accordance with the deceased’s will. When an individual creates a will, they will often assign a close friend or relative the role of managing their estate after they die. In other cases, where the deceased has not made a will, the role of estate executor is assigned by a probate court judge. Usually, this will be the deceased’s closest relative.

For an individual to take on the role, they will need to agree to comply with the orders in the will, alongside complying with the local California laws.

What Does Being an Estate Executor Entail?

The workload of an estate executor depends on a number of corresponding factors. If the will is straightforward in naming beneficiaries and is not in breach of local California laws, the process shouldn’t be too difficult. Another factor that can greatly contribute to the complexity of the process is whether a family member contests the will.

If the will is contested, the legal processes can stretch over many years.

Once a person assumes the role of estate executor, they become responsible for clearing any debts or unpaid taxes for the estate. After these debts and taxes have been fully cleared, they will then proceed to distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named on the will of the deceased.

Can You Reject the Role of Estate Executor?

If you are appointed the role of estate executor in the state of California, it is within your rights to reject this role. While respecting the wishes of the deceased can be a sensitive issue for many, it is often too big of a responsibility for people.

There are many reasons one might want or need to reject the role of the estate executor. Let's have a look at a few of the most likely reasons you might want to reject the role.

  • You live far away and need to make multiple trips to visit beneficiaries, oversee sales of real estate, etc.
  • The beneficiaries of the will seem likely to fight over the will
  • The loss of your loved one has left you unable to deal with stressful issues surrounding their death
  • Your life and work schedule do not allow you to accept the time commitments of the role
  • You feel there will be a conflict of interest
  • You've been named co-executor with someone you don't get along well with

Considering the sensitivity of estate settlement and the fact that it can turn into a years-long process that may involve intimate family conflict, wanting to reject the role is perfectly understandable. That’s why it’s so import for estate holders to brief their chosen executors thoroughly and make sure a potential estate executor is ready for the responsibilities they’ll be facing.

If you do decide to reject the role of estate executor in California, another will be appointed by a probate court judge.