Whenever an estate has to go through the probate court, one of the first things that happens is that the court will appoint a personal representative, who may also be called an executor.
This person, usually a family member or someone else close to the deceased, has an important job in the probate process.
The personal representative must gather all of the deceased’s proper that is subject to probate, put the property in the estate’s name, pay all valid claims, fees and taxes and then distribute the remaining property according to the terms of the will or California law.
The process requires the personal representative to keep a thorough accounting and careful track of her dealings.
On the other hand, the law gives her a fair amount of leeway when handling the finances of the estate. She also has the right to collect a reasonable fee for her services.
A family can and should act if the personal representative abuses his power
However, the executor does not have unlimited power, and he must certainly not use his position to acquire wealth for himself at the expense of the estate.
California law gives family members and other interested parties the right to ask for the removal of a personal representative.
The law provides that judges may remove a personal representative for mismanaging the estate, diverting funds to personal use or even just not doing his job in a timely fashion.
Likewise, even if it is for something entirely unavoidable like an illness or family emergency, a personal representative can be removed just for being unable to continue in her role.
A family in the Central Valley who feels that a personal representative is not doing his job has legal options available to it.