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Should your attorney be your executor?

As you likely already know, when you make a Last Will and Testament in California, in addition to naming the heirs who you want to receive your property upon your death, you also appoint an executor to carry out your wishes when the time comes. You can choose whomever you wish to act in this capacity, but before appointing someone as your executor, you should carefully consider his or her ability to do the job.

Bear in mind that your executor will have many duties while taking your estate through probate, including the following:

  • Gathering your estate assets together
  • Inventorying and valuing those assets
  • Managing and protecting the assets during probate
  • Paying valid claims against your estate
  • Defending your estate against invalid claims or will challenges
  • Making a final accounting and distributing the assets to your designated heirs

Attorney as executor

Per the American Bar Association, if you feel that none of your family members or friends possess the requisite financial skills to properly act as your executor, you may wish to designate your attorney instead. Not only has (s)he probably worked with you for years to help you set up your estate plan, (s)he also is well qualified to take your estate through probate.

In addition, your attorney is a disinterested and neutral party. Thus (s)he likely has no conflict of interest with any of your heirs, nor will (s)he favor one over another. This is a particularly important consideration if some of your family members do not get along well together. Remember that choosing your executor wisely is just as important as making your Last Will and Testament in the first place. The person you choose bears grave responsibilities that will impact your family and other heirs after you die.

This is educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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