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Executors must work for the estate, not themselves

After a loved one in California passes away, loved ones and will beneficiaries may wonder about the powers of the estate's executor. Named in the will and confirmed in probate court, the executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes of the person who wrote the will as well as addressing debts, taxes and other estate issues. As part of his or her tasks, the executor has the right and indeed the responsibility to protect and potentially expand the assets of the estate. Therefore, the executor can use the estate's funds to defend lawsuits against it such as those filed by potential beneficiaries not named in the will seeking a stake in the distribution of the assets.

In addition, an estate executor can take legal action on behalf of the estate in an attempt to increase the estate's funds. In some cases, this could include pursuing claims against people accused of taking assets from the estate without authorization. It could also include pursuing other types of lawsuits that could benefit the estate, including intellectual property or wrongful death claims.

However, some beneficiaries may be concerned when it appears that the executor is acting in his or her own interests and not to benefit the estate. Executors may not use estate assets to pursue or defend claims that advance only the personal interests of the executor. In addition, executors may not use estate funds to seek to increase their own assets.

When people see an executor of their loved one's estate using funds against the estate's interest, they have a right to take action. An executor may be required to return funds to the estate if used inappropriately. Beneficiaries in this situation might work with an estate administration lawyer to pursue the proper distribution of assets and stop abuses by an executor.

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