Individuals who are named as executors of a California estate face a tremendous responsibility. While some see it as a privilege and welcome duty, others may be tentative about assuming the tasks involved. It is absolutely okay for individuals to turn down the job of executor, if they choose. Here are some things to consider before agreeing to the job:
- Time commitment: Some probate processes take only a few months, while others may take years. A recent survey suggested that the average probate process took around 570 hours to complete; for larger estates, it could be double that. While much of this work can be outsourced to a lawyer or other support services, one should be prepared to be involved for the duration of the process.
- Complexity of estate: Some people leave a clear list of assets for their executor. For others, a game of “hide and seek” becomes part of their job. Even those with a good plan may miss a few assets, so people should be prepared to do some legwork to accumulate everything.
- Capabilities to complete tasks: An executor has a significant responsibility and could face legal consequences if their actions are called into question. If an individual is unsure of their ability to complete the tasks, or if they are concerned that contentious relationships between beneficiaries could make them a target, it might be wise to reconsider their role.
Ideally, a would-be executor will communicate their wishes to not be named as executor of the will before the person passes away. This can be a difficult conversation, but it is important to remember that a tentative yes, a yes with the ability to resign later, or a yes only if no one else is available are also options. Executors, or would-be executors, should consider discussing their concerns and the specifics of the will at hand with a lawyer.