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Can you contest a probate administrator’s choices?

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2023 | PROBATE

An executor named in a testator’s will plays an essential role in probate administration. An efficient and thorough executor may handle the necessary duties for processing a last will and testament in a California probate court. Some might wonder whether the executor has the final say on all decisions. Ultimately, the executor must follow directives in the will.

Estate executor duties

It is commonly assumed that an executor of the estate will transfer assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. This is accurate, but there are other responsibilities an executor must carry out. Debts owed to creditors require settling, and an executor must make those payments before distributing assets to beneficiaries.

The executor will typically also file personal or estate tax returns, close credit and bank accounts, and handle other matters related to the deceased estate. The executor might have some leeway with how they go about handling specific duties, but they cannot override state law or make decisions outside the will. For example, the executor cannot arbitrarily determine that one beneficiary is receiving too much and reduce their inheritance.

Problems with an executor

Probate litigation could prove unavoidable if an executor does not perform their duties effectively. Testators may benefit from weighing their options for an executor to ensure a highly competent person handles the job. Although someone might have good intentions, their incompetence may cause delays and other problems during probate administration.

An executor who commits fraud could face criminal charges. Fraud may involve something that involves the executor attempting to personally gain from their actions. Beneficiaries who believe an executor is engaging in such behavior could explore their legal options.