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By: Scott Grossman on July 2nd, 2021

Should I Serve as Administrator of the Estate?

Should I Serve as Administrator of the Estate?

Has your loved one died in California without a will and you are considering being in charge of the California probate estate?  Are you concerned about all you will have to do?  Let’s talk about what it means to serve as an administrator.

In California, it is mandatory for an administrator to post bond before they are appointed. The sole exception to this rule is if all the heirs waive bond in writing before the hearing on your petition for probate.  A bond is simply an insurance policy.  It insures the estate against any loss caused by the administrator’s breach of fiduciary duty.  What that means is if the administrator causes a loss to the estate, then the heirs need to be insured against that loss.  That’s what the bond does.

Bond companies will require you to fill out an application and check your credit.  You don’t need perfect credit to get a bond but if you have had major financial problems, like bankruptcy, then you won’t qualify. 

 If you can post bond and you are willing to post bond, then let’s move on to common tasks the administrator must personally perform:

        1. Gather and Take Control of Probate Estate Assets

This is not something you can delegate to somebody else. You are going to have to go to the bank, or the brokerage, or the mutual fund company. You are going to have to fill out their forms, present them with certified copies of your letters of administration, and get those assets re-titled in your name as the administrator of the estate.

         2. Deal with Creditors

There may be medical bills, unpaid credit cards, or some other type of debt.  You will have to decide whether these are valid debts and whether these debts should be paid in whole or in part.

          3. Decide what needs to be sold during probate

 If there’s real estate in the probate estate, there is a good chance it will need to be sold while the probate estate is open.  Usually, it is necessary so the expense of administration can be paid and the remaining estate divided between the heirs.  You’re going to be responsible for finding a real estate agent, working with that real estate agent, making sure the property gets listed, gets marketed, and ultimately gets sold.

           4. File an income tax return 

If the estate produces even a small amount of income or gains from sales, then there is a reasonable chance you will have to file at least one fiduciary income tax return as the administrator. You can hire an accountant to do this for you. Just understand your accountant will rely on you to provide the documents needed to prepare the income tax return and may need an explanation about why certain things were done.

If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form.  If you want a comprehensive overview of California Probate, then click here. If you have more questions about trust litigation, then you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.