Once appointed, the executor “manages the estate in the same way that a business person runs a business. The executor ensures that all debts are paid, all taxes are paid, all assets are taken care of, and then distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the law and will. The executor has the authority of the probate court to administer the affairs of the estate. The executors can use the estate money in the manner they determine best for the inheritance and to fulfill the wishes of the deceased.
This will generally amount to paying debts and transferring bequests to beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. One of the executor's most important powers is to distribute assets to designated beneficiaries. They must transfer the title or deed to the new owners of the asset. This won't happen until all debts are paid, including federal taxes, state taxes, and estate taxes.
The executor is nominated by his Last Will and Testament and is appointed by the Court. Your responsibilities include paying debts, collecting assets, resolving claims against your estate, and distributing assets among the beneficiaries of your will. Some people think that as soon as a person is appointed as a personal representative or executor of the probate court, they can begin distributing the assets of the deceased's estate. No, an executor of a will cannot pay himself a traditional “salary” because all compensation, but it must be approved by the court before payment.
In fact, for a simple distribution of the estate, where most of the estate passes to a single beneficiary, it is common for that beneficiary to also be named executor of the will. In many states, the court requires the executor to submit a detailed inventory of the estate's assets. Since successions vary greatly in size and complexity, and the executor's work can be easy or difficult to carry out, and responsibilities can go beyond the 10 basic elements of this list. Unfortunately, on rare occasions, an executor-beneficiary will violate his fiduciary duty and take an action that will benefit himself to the detriment of the estate or other beneficiaries.
Other beneficiaries do not have the authority to make decisions regarding the management of the estate, but they do have the power to hinder the work of the executor, especially if they do not believe that the executor is acting in the best interest of the estate. While the executor has the power to administer and direct the estate funds, he is obligated by his fiduciary duty to distribute the money according to the will to the beneficiaries of the estate. Executors are usually spouses or children of the deceased, and California law places no restrictions on beneficiaries or heirs acting as executors. If they showed evidence of misconduct, the court could have them removed and replaced by another executor.
If you can prove to the court that the current executor is incompetent or that he has mishandled matters of the estate, the court will release that executor and choose a replacement. While a beneficiary acting as executor of a will may raise a conflict of interest, this is rarely a problem because of the fiduciary duty that the executor owes to the estate and its beneficiaries. Because the law gives executors a great deal of power to direct estate assets, the court takes this step to address any potential conflict of interest. It depends on several factors, such as the complexity of the estate, the amount and nature of the assets, the number and nature of the beneficiaries, etc.
Some actions to avoid succession are quite simple, but others may require the assistance of an attorney experienced in estate, tax and estate planning. .