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The job of administering a person’s estate in Irvine may seem simple at first glance, yet oftentimes it is anything but. The common school of thought is that an executor or personal representative only has to ensure that an estate’s assets are distributed according to a settlor’s wishes. That may be true in some cases, yet in many others (particularly those involving people who were public figures) one must remain diligent in their duties to protect the interests of an estate for years after one dies.

Oftentimes the challenges that require an executor or personal representative to come to the defense of an estate are unanticipated. It may be said that the representatives of a late artisan in Alabama. The man (known for restoring clocks) died a few years ago, yet his story was subsequently told in a popular online podcast. Representatives of his estate have since filed a lawsuit against those involved in the podcast claiming that they do not have the right to profit off of the man’s death. Those arguing on behalf of the podcast claim that their work amounted to journalism, and is thus protected under the First Amendment. A former state Supreme Court justice has been appointed to mediate the case.

This case serves to illustrate exactly how complex estate cases can be. Because of this potential for complexity, those engaged in the estate planning process should carefully consider who they entrust with the role of executor or personal representative. Assistance may be available in making this all-important decision. Often that assistance may come from an experienced attorney familiar with estate law.