How Does the Executor of an Estate Resign in California?

By Abby Lane

Probate is a court-supervised process that transfers legal title of property from the estate of the deceased, known as the decedent, to his beneficiaries and heirs. In California, the Superior Court in the county where the decedent lived when he died handles the probate process. Typically, when a person makes a will, he names an executor, also known as a personal representative, to oversee the administration of the estate according to his wishes. An executor has numerous responsibilities. If you are named as an executor in California or in any other state, you have the option of declining the appointment, or resigning at a later date if you accept the appointment.

The Executor

If a person dies without a will, or does not name an executor in the will, the California Superior Court will appoint an estate administrator to handle the estate in probate. When the will names you as executor, you still must request appointment from the California Superior Court by filing a petition, or formal request, with the clerk of the court. Your appointment becomes effective when the court issues letters testamentary, or letters of administration, which are the formal documents that allow you to act as the executor.

The Executor’s Duties

If you are named executor in a will, while you do not have to accept the appointment, if you do accept it, you have a fiduciary duty, which is the duty to act with good faith, diligence and honesty on behalf of the decedent, as well as an obligation to the beneficiaries named in the will to preserve all the assets of the estate. You are responsible for collecting the assets of the estate, paying taxes, notifying and settling with creditors to ensure that all debts are paid, hiring professionals such as accountants, appraisers and attorneys if necessary, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with law and the will.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Resigning as Executor

You may find that serving as executor is too difficult or time consuming, or that you don't have the skills necessary to serve effectively. In that case, you can, and should, resign as executor. In California, you can resign at any time, for any reason, by filing a petition with the court. You may also have to provide the court with an accounting -- a detailed report of everything you did while you served as executor -- before the court accepts your petition of resignation.

Alternate Executor or Estate Administrator

In many instances, the will names an alternate, or successor, executor to serve if the first executor resigns or cannot serve. Generally, the court will appoint the successor executor after you resign. If the will does not name an alternate executor, or the successor is not willing or available, the court will appoint an estate administrator.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
What Does a Petition for Letters Mean in Probate Court in California

References

Related articles

What Happens When an Executor of a Will Doesn't Carry Out What the Will Asks For?

A last will and testament represents the final wishes of a deceased person, and laws are in place to ensure that the instructions set out in the will are actually carried out. While these laws vary by state, you will find that every state regulates how a will is administered and who is responsible for it.

Who Enforces the Execution of a Will?

In drafting your will, you may appoint a person to serve as your executor, also known as a personal representative. This person will have the responsibility of carrying out your wishes pursuant to the will. Because the executor has a number of responsibilities and can be held personally responsible if they are not properly carried out, carefully consider appointing someone who is trustworthy and capable of carrying out the somewhat complicated probate process.

Can an Executor of a Will Be Forced to Execute the Will by a Judge?

A judge can remove an executor from his position if he does not do his job or if the beneficiaries present good cause why he should be removed. But a judge cannot force a named executor to oversee probate of a will if he doesn't want to and, in fact, most states have simplified procedures for getting out of the job.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Appoint an Executor to Probate in California

An executor in California is a person who is nominated in a will to represent the deceased person’s estate and to carry ...

How to Be Appointed the Personal Representative for the Deceased in California

Executors, also called personal representatives or administrators, handle a deceased person’s estate during the probate ...

Estate Administrator Duties

When a person dies, his estate will likely go through the probate process, whether or not he left a will. During ...

If an Executor Is Not Available Who Could Execute a Will?

The executor is the person named in a will to administer an estate and fulfill the terms of the will, upon the passing ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED