When a person dies, their estate goes through a legal process called probate. The purpose of probate is to assess the validity of the will and administer the decedent’s estate. The person appointed to manage this process is called the executor.
Who is an executor?
The executor is the person appointed by the will to manage the decedent’s estate. If the will does not name an executor, the court may appoint someone to fill that role.
What does an executor do?
The first role of an executor is to file the will with the court. The executor must also publish a notice in the local newspaper informing creditors of the estate that they have a certain period of time to file a claim. Secondly, the executor must gather all of the assets of the estate and make a comprehensive list of them.
The executor must then determine which debts the estate owes and pay them off. This may include bills, taxes, and funeral expenses. The executor may also need to sell assets to pay off these debts or meet important financial obligations. Finally, the executor distributes what’s left of the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will.
What if there is no will?
If there is no will, the probate court may appoint an administrator to manage the estate. This person will have many of the same responsibilities as an executor, but may not be able to distribute the assets in the way that the deceased desired.
What if there are disputes among the beneficiaries?
If there are disputes among the beneficiaries, the executor may need to petition the court for guidance. The court will make a determination based on what it believes is in the best interest of the estate. It’s common, for instance, for the court to make an order that the assets be sold and the proceeds distributed among the beneficiaries.
Clearly, the executor has a lot of responsibility in probate. This is a big job and it’s important to have someone qualified and capable of handling it. Remember that to become an executor, it’s important to be a resident of the state in which the will is being probated. Also, you cannot be a beneficiary of the estate or have a felony conviction.