Going to probate court, dealing with an estate plan and coping with the passing of a loved one is not easy, and understanding how to deal with this process when you are an interested party, but not the executor of an estate requires understanding, patience and support. Talking with a qualified probate attorney is one of the most essential steps in this process, as you discuss what your right and options are, and what you should expect from the process.
Avoiding difficulties in probate court and will fights among family members and loved ones is the ideal outcome when dealing with a decedent’s estate. When you are not the executor of an estate, it’s important to understand your unique position and your rights from a legal point of view.
The Court Must Approve the Executor
Just because an estate plan names somebody as the executor of a will, this does not necessarily mean they guarantee them the right to that role. There are legal documents and procedures that must be followed before a court will appoint anyone as an executor of an estate in probate. It’s helpful to keep in mind that even if someone is named as the executor of a will, they don’t control any of the assets until the court approves their appointment.
The Executor Doesn’t Control All The Assets
Even after an executor has been appointed and approved, they do not necessarily control all the assets. An executor usually only has control over ‘probate assets’. Some assets are ‘non-probate assets’ which the executor doesn’t control. There can be a lot of confusion around ‘probate’ and ‘non-probate’ assets, so it’s critical to speak with a probate attorney as soon as possible when involved with estate distribution.
The Executor Should Be Impartial and Protect Assets
A successful trustee or executor is a fiduciary, which means they act in a position of trust on behalf of the deceased estate and all beneficiaries. Sadly, this is not always the case, and executors can abuse and exploit their position and the assets for their own benefit. Having a trusted estate attorney experienced in litigation on your side is extremely important to protect your rights in regards to trust & probate disputes.
When There’s No Will…
When there is no will in place at the time of a person’s passing, it also means that there is no named executor to the will, because the deceased did not convey their wishes in a properly written will. This highlights the importance of estate planning with a professional estate lawyer in advance, to provide a will and guidelines on inheritance distribution for loved ones.
Nevertheless, when no will is available to appoint an executor, under California probate code the role usually falls to a surviving spouse, or children.
Talk To A Lawyer
Whether or not there is a will, and whether or not you are the executor, if you are an interested party or beneficiary in a deceased estate, it is essential you seek the advice and assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced estate lawyer. A qualified estate attorney can help guide you through the process of inheritance administration, look after your rights, and help secure assets you may be entitled to, while avoiding will contests and family tension.