It’s a great honor for someone to trust you to handle their estate in California after they die. That being said, being an executor is not a simple task. Many potential issues can arise while carrying out this duty, and depending on the size and complexity of an estate, you can find yourself in a very challenging situation. Some of the potential problems to watch out for include:
Disputes with heirs, creditors and other interested parties
The primary role of an executor is to secure the estate and then distribute it according to the wishes of the deceased. Even with a clear plan, disputes can arise. For example, if the deceased left out someone that the state laws would have deemed as an heir, that person could file a lawsuit with the probate court, challenging the will and demanding a share of the estate.
Settling an estate is a very long process. You must first notify the court that probate needs to take place. After the judge approves the will and the death certificate, your next task will be to find and notify all legal heirs (including the ones not named in the will), creditors and any other interested parties of the deceased.
Next, the hearing process will start. You must find all the deceased assets that they didn’t move into a trust, file taxes, settle debts and any disputes, submit an estate distribution plan and then eventually distribute the estate as stated in the will. Keep in mind that you only have 12 months to do all these.
Being an executor is a high-stakes position where every action could have legal implications. Dispute resolution, proper and timely communication with heirs and creditors, and efficient management of the estate’s assets and liabilities are all critical tasks an executor must handle with utmost diligence. While taking on this role is an honor, it’s important to remember that it requires meticulous attention to detail and a strong understanding of the probate process.