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Probate Executor and Administrator Responsibilities

When there is a will entered into California probate, the individual managing the estate is known as an “executor.” Absent a will, the estate manager is called an “administrator.” Both executor and administrator are increasingly referred to as the “personal representative.” You, as the executor or administrator, have specific duties to perform:

  • As a fiduciary, the personal representative has a duty to pursue the estate’s best interests.
  • The personal representative must document, list and collect the estate’s assets.
  • The estate’s funds  must be held in a separate, non-commingled, well-marked bank account, and the personal representative must provide accountings to the probate court on a regular basis.
  • The personal representative has the duty to keep assets and records well-documented and organized in at least the same manner as the decedent would him or herself.
  • The personal representative is barred from using the position for personal profit.

Your Probate Lawyer Should Help You Understand the Executor or Administrator’s Role

The executor or administrator first files a petition for probate. The appropriate parties must then be given proper notice of the assigned hearing date. Notice of the petition to administer the estate also needs to be published in a court-approved newspaper. Proof of that publishing must then be filed with the court prior to the hearing addressing the petition for probate.

The following are further duties required from an executor or administrator:

  • The executor or administrator shall take inventory and obtain an appraisal of the assets of the estate. Estate appraisals are performed by California probate “referees.” Appointed by the state controller, these referees document the fair market value of an estate’s assets. Fair market value considers mortgages and other debts and can yield a higher appraisal of an asset than the deceased’s equity in the property otherwise indicates. This is because outstanding balance on a mortgage or other debt is not considered in the calculation.
  • The executor or administrator shall give proper notice to creditors so that they can file any claim against the estate.
  • The executor or administrator shall inventory all outstanding debts by searching through bills, statements, files, emails, etc.
  • The executor or administrator shall pay or settle the debts and obligations of the estate, including arrange the sale of assets to cover any shortage of funds to cover those debts. By paying or settling all bills, mortgages, rent and utilities, the executor or administrator protects the  estate during the probate process from other possible adverse developments.
  • The executor or administrator shall file appropriate tax returns on the estate’s behalf.
  • The executor or administrator also files the Final Accounting and Petition for Final Distribution, then serves notice to any and all interested parties.
  • The executor or administrator shall appear  in a final court hearing in order to carry out distributions that the court approves. And, finally,
  • The executor or administrator then applies with the court for final discharge.

Understanding Your Role as Executor or Administrator: Contact an Experienced Probate Attorney

For an initial consultation, contact T.S. Wrobel Law Group to speak with Thomas Wrobel for your probate needs. Call (415) 928-4161 now for an initial consultation, or reach us by email at  We look forward to assisting you.