Probate Resource & Information Blog: All Items

After Death Checklist: Downloadable Copy When someone you love dies, you may just want to curl up in a ball and shut out the world.

You may feel torn between following the will and doing what a beneficiary wants. But it’s important to remember that your first and most important obligation is to uphold the will (and state law if there is no will). 

So yes, as executor you can override a beneficiary if they’re requesting something that isn’t allowed under the terms of the will. 

When we hear the words will, probate, or estate, most of us think about the people inheriting money — the beneficiaries of an estate.

In most cases, a person’s estate must go through probate after they die. When the personal representative (called the executor or administrator) doesn’t probate the will, issues can arise — both logistical and legal. 

We’ve listed three of the most common problems that can occur when people don’t probate wills. 

There’s a priority to how the funds from an estate are used and distributed, and it’s based not only on the terms of the will but also on state law. 

Here’s what you need to know about who gets paid first from an estate.

You’re pulling together a list of assets, and getting ready to file the will with the probate court. 

And suddenly you think to yourself, Wait a minute. Is all of this information going to be...public? 

Here’s what you need to know.


An executor’s role is important, and it can be time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be difficult or scary. We’ve included a checklist for the things to do right away and the things to do in the weeks and months that follow. 

As the executor or administrator of an estate, you’re beginning to acquaint yourself with the requirements of your role. What are your duties? Do you get paid? What decisions do you have authority to make? Do you need to be prepared to show an accounting to the beneficiaries?

If you’re serving as the executor or administrator for an estate, you may be wondering how probate finances work. How do you pay for probate? Is money you spend tax deductible? Will you be reimbursed?

Knowing what rights beneficiaries have can help you set appropriate expectations and boundaries. You’ll be confident that you’re performing your executor duties effectively, and you can be clear with beneficiaries about the limits of your duties if you need to be.

The most common reason for there to be no beneficiary is that there’s no will, but there are actually several additional ways you could end up with an estate without beneficiaries. Let's discover how, and who inherits if there is no beneficiary. 

Because California is a Community Property State, all assets that are deemed to be community property are automatically the property of the surviving spouse —  even if there is a will or other document that attempts to direct the assets to someone other than the spouse.