How to Become an Executor of an Estate in Los Angeles

Executor of Estate

Many people ask us how to become an executor of an estate in Los Angeles.    Becoming an executor is not the same as just being nominated to act as an executor in a will.   After the person is nominated as executor, he or she must file papers in the Los Angeles Superior Court, which start with a Petition for Probate.

Before anyone acts as an executor, there are many things to learn about wills and probate:

  1.  An executor is a fiduciary.  This means that he or she must put the interests of the estate before his/her personal interests.
  2.  An executor must obtain advice from an estate attorney to keep in line with the duties of an executor.
  3.  When you become an executor of a will, you must file income tax returns for the decedent, and also for the estate.  This means that if  the decedent did not file tax returns in the last few years of his/her life, the executor must step-in and file those tax returns.   The  process can be overwhelming and not pleasant.
  4.  Wills and estates are related, but not always.   A will must be admitted to court to become the instructions of the deceased person.  Without the will being admitted to court, the court does not know that the will is the last wishes of the deceased.
  5.  The will executor must comply with a set of executor duties prescribed by the law in California.  Will or estate executor duties can be  found in a Judicial Council form called Duties and Liabilities of personal representative.
  6.  A personal representative is the same as the probate executor or probate administrator.
  7.  When you become an executor, you are signing that you will accept all of the duties and responsibilities of an executor under California law.
  8.  Your estate executor fees are determined by statute in California based on a formula.
  9.  Your executor fees can be cut by the court, if you fail to act properly and are surcharged by the court.
  10.  You must take the duties of an executor seriously when you become appointed as the executor.
  11.  As part of your duties of an executor, you must file an accounting in probate court.

Mina Sirkin and Evan Sirkin are Los Angeles Probate Lawyers who help executors of estates with their duties to the probate court and beneficiaries. Since 1993, we have assisted personal representatives successfully manage and distribute millions of dollars in probate estates.   Contact us at 818.340.4479 for more information.

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