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Every will needs an executor. However, the person writing the will should get consent from the individual named as executor prior to signing the document. It could also be beneficial to name an alternate in case the original person is unable to fulfill the duties for some reason. People most commonly choose someone close to them, such as a spouse or adult child, who is likely to follow their directions. An executor of a will has several duties in California probate.

Although in most cases, the role of the executor only lasts a short time, it is very important that the person assigned to this role takes it seriously. Anyone chosen as executor who doesn’t want to do it should inform the probate court so the judge can assign an alternate. In the weeks following the passing of the testator, an executor will need to find out what the person owned, pay debts and taxes from the estate funds, locate the heirs named in the will and maintain property that will be sold. He or she will also need to attend all court hearings related to the estate.

Because most executors are family members of the testator, they don’t usually request payment for their services. Any payments that are made to cover their expenses are paid from the estate funds and have to be approved by the court. If the executor hires an attorney or financial adviser, they would also be paid by the estate. This will reduce the assets passed down to heirs.

If a will is disputed or faces other challenges, getting the advice of an experienced probate lawyer could be beneficial. A lawyer can offer guidance or even take over the executor role if the probate issues are too complex.