What is the Role of the Estate Executor?

Sept. 8, 2021

Losing a family member can be an emotional and difficult time for their loved ones, relatives, and friends. Executors play a huge role in settling the decedent's final affairs and distributing assets to beneficiaries. According to a 2018 study by, on average, settling an estate takes the executor nearly 16 months or about 570 hours of effort. If you have been appointed an executor by a deceased family member, friend, or probate court, it is important for you to understand your rights and responsibilities to enable you to act ethically, diligently, and according to the deceased person's wishes.Estate Law Book

The Law Office of Geoffrey Fong has the experience and resources to assist and guide clients in the legal matters of estate planning, probate, and estate administration. As an experienced California estate planning attorney, he can evaluate your unique situation, enlighten you about your duties and responsibilities as an executor and how to accomplish them. Attorney Geoffrey Fong can offer you the detailed legal counsel and strong advocacy you need to perform your expected roles as an executor to an estate. The firm is proud to serve clients in Rocklin, California, and the surrounding area, including Roseville, Folsom, and Citrus Heights.

What is an Executor?

An executor can be described as a person appointed by the probate court to administer a decedent's estate, secure the estate's assets, then distribute them according to the deceased person's wishes (provisions of the will) or California's intestate succession laws.

During the probate process, the executor performs specific roles, such as collecting and evaluating the deceased person's assets, settling taxes and debts, filing estate tax returns, and eventually distributing remaining assets to the inheritors.

Who Can Serve as an Executor in California?

Serving as an executor in the state of California requires that you meet the following requirements:

  • You must be 18 years or older

  • You must be of sound mind (not considered incapacitated by the court)

Grounds for Removal

Pursuant to California State Probate Code Section 8502, an executor or personal representative may be removed from their duties for any of the following causes:

  • The executor has wasted, embezzled, mismanaged, or committed a fraud on the estate, or is about to do so.

  • The personal representative is incapable of properly executing the duties of the position or is otherwise not qualified for appointment as personal representative.

  • The executor has wrongfully neglected the estate or has long neglected to perform any act as the personal representative.

  • Removal of the personal representative is deemed necessary to protect the estate or interested persons.

  • Any other cause provided by statute.

Executor's Role

Being appointed as the executor or personal representative is a great honor that comes with huge obligations. Here are some of the expected duties and responsibilities of an executor:

  • Recover all the decedent's vital documents

  • Collect and assess the decedent's assets and debts

  • Notify beneficiaries, creditors, and other interested parties

  • File the deceased person's will or estate plan with the probate court

  • Recover all money owed to the estate, including interests and rents

  • Administer the estate in accordance with the provisions of the will

  • Pay taxes and debts

  • File the final tax returns

  • Distribute remaining assets and property to heirs and beneficiaries

Compensation for Executor

It requires significant effort and time to serve diligently as an executor. As such, California laws permit an executor to be compensated using a specific percentage of the total assets of the estate. Under California's Probate Code, the executor may be entitled to the following compensation:

  • 4% of the first $100,000 of the estate's value

  • 3% on the next $100,000 of the estate's value

  • 2% on the next $800,000 of the estate's value

  • 1% on the next $9 million of the estate's value

  • 0.5% on the next $15 million of the estate's value

For estate value in excess of $25 million, the court will determine a reasonable amount.

Trust an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney for Help

There are a lot of complex procedures involved in administering an estate. Before accepting your role or acting as an executor, it is crucial that you understand your rights and legal duties. This will enable you to settle the deceased person's final affairs ethically, diligently, and according to the provisions of the will or required statutes. An experienced estate planning attorney can offer you proper guidance and help you navigate key decisions.

Attorney Geoffrey Fong is committed to providing comprehensive legal guidance and strong advocacy to executors and fiduciaries in probate and estate administration-related matters. As your legal counsel, he can:

  • Educate you about your duties as an executor and how to achieve them

  • Help manage court proceedings and avoid potential issues

  • Help communicate with the other parties involved in the process

  • Help settle taxes and debts, and distribute assets to heirs and beneficiaries

  • Outline a detailed checklist to guide and assist you through the estate administration process

Contact the Law Office of Geoffrey Fong today to schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney. Attorney Geoffrey Fong can offer you the detailed legal counsel, assistance, and reliable advocacy you need to perform your role and responsibilities diligently and navigate important decisions in the executorship process. The firm proudly serves clients in Rocklin, California, and the surrounding area, including Roseville, Folsom, and Citrus Heights.