When someone dies, their estate is administered through probate court. This is can be a complex process and may be difficult for loved ones who are grieving, especially if the decedent didn’t have a will. That’s where an executor comes in. An executor helps in carrying out the estate administration process and ensuring that the deceased’s final wishes are carried out.
Who is an executor?
An executor is someone who’s appointed by the court to administer the estate of a deceased person. This person officially starts the estate administration process in the probate court after collecting the decedent’s death certificate and will, if there is one.
What are the duties of an executor?
The duties of an executor are many and varied, but can generally be divided into three categories: estate administration, asset management and estate distribution.
Estate administration includes tasks, such as filing the necessary paperwork with the probate court, locating and notifying the deceased’s creditors, and paying any debts or taxes owed by the estate.
Asset management involves collecting and safeguarding the estate’s assets, and identifying and valuing any property owned by the deceased, among other similar tasks.
Estate distribution is the final stage of estate administration and involves distributing the estate’s assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. If there is no will, then the estate may get distributed according to the laws of intestate succession.
What if the beneficiaries disagree on how the estate should get distributed?
If the beneficiaries of an estate cannot agree on how the estate should get distributed, then they can file a petition with the court to have a judge decide. This is typically called “contesting the will.”
Contesting a will can be a long and expensive process, so it’s important to try and reach an agreement with the other beneficiaries before going to court. It’s generally important for executors to understand their responsibilities and what they should do in different situations.
If the deceased left behind a will, the executor is usually named in the will. If there was no will, the court will appoint an executor. Just remember that the executor can be a family member, friend, or a third-party professional, such as a lawyer or accountant.