practice areas

The role of the executor is to carry out the wishes of the deceased. The designated person must ensure that she or he fulfills the will’s specifications and that all rightful parties receive the property and possessions that the deceased willed to them. 

If a person abuses the power of the role, it may have significant repercussions for the beneficiaries. Gaining a better understanding of the executor’s role is important for ensuring the person handles the position properly. 

Duties of the position 

An executor should handle the finances of a person’s estate, and this requires completing many tasks. Protecting estate assets, paying debts and taxes, filing for probate, liquidating assets and distributing property are all an executor’s responsibilities. 

Another important task is contacting all necessary parties; this includes reaching out to all beneficiaries and informing creditors of the person’s death. The executor may also need to use estate funds to pay for funeral and burial expenses. 

Compensation offered for this role 

Executors may receive reasonable compensation for their work, although they may choose to waive this fee. In California, for performing these duties, an executor may receive 4% on the first $100,000 and 3% on the second $100,000 of the estate’s value. 

Signs of abuse of the role 

If executors do not complete their tasks in a timely manner or delay the administration process for any reason, it may be cause for concern. In addition, the executor should prepare an inventory of property that includes market values and provide this list to all beneficiaries who request it. If the executor is reluctant to share these details and it is difficult to understand the current finances of the estate, it may be a sign of a misuse of power. 

Steps following misuse of power  

The court may need to step in if one suspects misuse of power, and a petition for removal may be the following action. In these cases, beneficiaries have the right to pursue a claim with the probate court. Seeking legal counsel may be useful in these situations to determine what the correct next course of action is for a given case.