Personal Finance: Ask the Experts

Get advice on money matters from The Bee's Claudia Buck and a panel of local experts

February 25, 2013
How do I replace the current executor of my trust?

I would like to remove my present executor and set up a new one for my trust, but prefer not to have another individual person. What are sources for finding some kind of institutional rather than a personal executor? How do I show the installation of a new one?
My will and trust are properly set up; no changes required. However, I may want to drop one or two recipients. Does this need to go through my lawyer or can I simply write and attach new instructions to the will?

Allen, Sacramento

A: If your preference is to have an institutional executor rather than an individual, I suggest that you first start with the attorney who prepared your estate planning documents. He or she is most familiar with your estate and can make a recommendation appropriate to your needs.

You could also check with your financial institution to determine if it has a trust department. Be aware, however, that most trust departments require an estate to have a minimum value in assets, perhaps $1 million, before it will accept appointment as your executor.

You might also consider nominating a licensed professional fiduciary as executor if your goal is to select someone who is experienced in the area of estate management and is not a family member or close friend. A licensed professional fiduciary is required to complete and maintain minimum education requirements and undergo a criminal background check through the state Department of Justice. You can obtain names of licensed professional fiduciaries from the state Department of Consumer Affairs and its Professional Fiduciaries Bureau.

If the only change to your will is to name a new executor, you can do this through a codicil to your present will. Although there is nothing preventing you from creating a handwritten codicil, there are certain requirements for such a document to be effective. A codicil is a sufficiently important legal document that the assistance of an attorney is recommended to ensure that it complies with the legal formalities.

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Meet Our Financial Experts

Claudia Buck

Claudia Buck is The Sacramento Bee's personal finance columnist. Read all her columns here. Contact her at cbuck@sacbee.com

Terri Carpenter

Terri Carpenter offers advice on job hunting, retraining and career counseling. Carpenter works at Sacramento Works Inc., the career and job training arm of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA). With 15 years in the field, she has hands-on experience with everyone from first-time job seekers to career professionals seeking advice after a layoff or looking for a mid-career change. Ask her a question.

Carlena Tapella

Carlena Tapella is a partner in the law firm of Webb & Tapella Law Corp. in Sacramento. The firm specializes in estate planning and probate, such as estates, trusts, conservatorships and litigation. She is a past president of the Sacramento County Bar Association's Estate Planning & Probate Section. Ask her a question.

Kimberly Foss

Kimberly Foss, certified financial planner, is the founder of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville. With nearly 30 years in the financial industry, her clients include women in transition, small business owners, retirees and "pre-retirees." Ask her a question.

Jesse Weller

Gregory Burke, a CPA and tax expert with John Waddell & Co. in Sacramento since 1984, worked as an IRS tax auditor for six years. He’s a past chairman of the California Society of CPAs. Ask him a question.

Daniel Tahara

Daniel Tahara takes your questions about California taxes. Tahara, a spokesman for the state Franchise Tax Board, has 10 years of experience as a tax auditor. Ask him a question.



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