What happens if an executor dies in California?

August 11, 2023 | Estate Planning, Executor or Conservator

What happens if an executor dies in California?

A person’s estate is one of the most important legal matters that they will need to address. Understanding the impact of the loss of an executor is crucial.

What does an executor do?

An executor is someone who must have knowledge of the estate and be able to anticipate certain scenarios. Some of the things an executor does include:

  • Distributing the inheritance among beneficiaries
  • Paying the deceased’s debts
  • Collecting any assets for the estate
  • Filing probate paperwork

The executor is the most important person involved with an estate, so if they die, it can present a number of issues.

What if an executor dies before a testator?

When an executor dies, the estate might be left without anyone to manage things. If the executor dies before the testator, the testator must appoint a new executor.

What if the executor does during probate?

In most cases, probate cases take six months to a year to settle, depending on their complexity. When an executor dies during this time, the responsibility for appointing a new executor falls on the court.

A common outcome of this process is a delay in the proceedings. The new executor has to become familiar with the estate, learn about the progress of the case and assure any responsibilities.

Avoiding issues when an executor dies

One of the best ways for testators to plan for an executor predeceasing them is by appointing a successor executor during their probate and estate administration planning. Testators may appoint co-executors so that if one dies, the other may take over.

The most important thing testators and their executors can do is discuss the consequences of their choices, even with estates that may not require formal probate. Estates with testators who have allowed for such contingencies are likely to have fewer issues with the deceased’s wishes being carried out.

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