AB 1670: Protecting Your Estate

A will contains your last wishes and the directions for the distribution of your assets aft er your death. It is created to make sure you get to name someone who you trust to act on your behalf as the representative of your estate. Th is person can be anyone the will writer chooses, even a non-U.S. citizen. If a person dies without a valid will however, and the heir is a nonresident of the U.S., current law is that the heir does not have the authority to act on behalf of the deceased, nor do they have the power to nominate a person who is a U.S. resident to act as the administrator of his or her estate.

In the court case Estate of Damskog (1991), non U.S. resident heirs of an estate who resided in Norway nominated an administrator. Th e court, however, rejected the nomination and instead appointed a public administrator concluding that because the decedent’s heirs were nonresidents, they were “incompetent” to nominate an administrator.

Current law prevents a nonresident heir of an estate from being able to nominate the administrator of his or her estate. As a result, nonresident heirs have no say in who acts as the administrator of his or her inherited estate, and the court appointed administrator who is assigned to handle the estate frequently has no ties to the decedents.

Introduced by Assembly Member Ricardo Lara of Los Angeles County, Assembly Bill 1670 is designed to protect your estate in the event you die without creating a will. By amending current law, AB 1670 will ensure that non-resident heirs have the ability to appropriately administer and care for their inherited estate. Th e bill allows foreign heirs to nominate a trusted family friend or lawyer as administrator of the estate, rather than the public administrator chosen by the court, which would in almost all cases be a stranger to the heirs. Under AB 1670, the nominated administrator must meet existing requirements in order to be appointed as the administrator. If appointed, the administrator is subject to the court’s jurisdiction. Th is means that the administrator will be held personally liable if creditors are not paid or if he or she does not properly safeguard the assets of the estate from theft.

In support of the bill, the author writes that this bill provides non-residents with the ability to appropriately manage their inherited estates by giving them the ability to nominate a qualifi ed person to act as administrator and care for their inherited estate in the best manner they see fit.

For information about AB 1670, and other bills, visit: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/.