Declination or Resignation of the Executor in California

Can an executor decline or resign in Los Angeles California?

Yes. An executor can decline or resign as the executor of an estate in California, The same is true of an administrator of an estate. The procedures for declinations and resignations are different depending on the timing of the action to be taken.

Declination before probate begins

A declination before probate begins is done rather easily. The named executor in the will simply writes a letter declining to act and sends it to the heirs or beneficiaries.

Resignation after probate starts

Once probate has started and Letters Testamentary have been issued to the executor of the will, the executor will need to take a few steps before he can actually resign and leave the case. First, the executor has to file a petition requesting permission of the Court to allow for the resignation for good cause. Good cause can be an illness, death in the family or other time-consuming events that the executor can present as the reason for the resignation request. What the judge will order depends on whether or not the executor has marshalled the assets.

Appointing a Successor Executor in Court

A resigning executor or administrator must then located and convince another executor or administrator (called a successor executor or successor administrator) to file a petition asking to be appointed. Next, once the Court authorizes the resignation, the executor will be ordered to file his interim account, and the court will not relieve him of his position and liability until three things happen: 1) Another executor or administrator is appointed and 2) After he has delivered the assets to the next executor or administrator, and 3) his accounting is approved by the Court.

Interim Accounting or Final Accounting

An interim accounting in an estate or probate case means that there is another accounting which will come after it. Sometimes there are circumstances that are beyond the control of the executor/administrator such as market timing, lack of offers on estate assets, estate lawsuits , tax litigation, or even trust and estate litigation that prevents the executor to complete the case. In that case, the Court will require a status report or upon request of heir and beneficiaries, may order the executor to file an interim account. An interim account is a history of all of the estate’s transactions up to the end date of the accounting. A beneficiary can ask for an accounting anytime a probate executor is due for a status report or an accounting. Ask us when a status report is due or check the court’s website for an OSC re accounting.

Final Accounting of the Executor

A final account also called a final accounting of the executor comes at the latest stage of probate administration. It is in the final account petition that the executor requests permission for distribution of the assets to the heirs and beneficiaries. California is different than many states in that the executor cannot distribute the assets without a court order. This is important for out-of-state executors to know as our California procedure is tied to the timelines of the Court and the Court will hold the executor responsible for an early distribution without a Court order and subjects the executor to a surcharge order (a judgment against the executor).

To find out more about a declining or resigning executor or if you have questions about different types of estate accounting, call Mina Sirkin at 818.340.4479 or email us here