People who use a last will for their estate plan should be aware of the process of probate and the role of the executor. Probate is a court supervised process to ensure that creditors of an estate are paid and to facilitate the distribution of an estate to the decedent's designated beneficiaries or heirs. During this legal process the court will determine the validity of the will, hear any challenges that may be presented and supervise the administration of the estate.
When you work with an estate planning lawyer to prepare your last will you must choose an executor or executrix. This individual will be charged with the various responsibilities that must be undertaken to administer your estate. The executor, or Personal Representative, should have an ability to manage the administration of assets. Also, the executor will require the assistance of a qualified probate attorney.
We have prepared a report that will serve as a good overview of this process. To access the report we ask you to simply click the link that follows and fill in the form so that you will see on the page:
An Executors Role & Responsibilities
In many cases, you will know if someone has nominated you as executor in their Last Will and Testament because they will have discussed the appointment with you. Sometimes, however, a person fails to discuss their plans ahead of time, resulting in a surprise telephone call letting you know that you are appointed as the an executor. If this happens, what do you do?
First, don’t panic. A nomination is just that -- a nomination. You are under no legal obligation to accept the position. If you do not feel that you can serve as the executor, or do not want to serve, you may decline the nomination.
If you decide to accept the nomination, there are several basic things that will need to happen afterwards. Unless someone else has already done so, you need to petition the appropriate court to probate the decedent’s estate.
Next, you should marshall and safeguard the estate assets to the best of your ability. Eventually you will also need to thoroughly inventory and value the estate assets.
Finally, if you have not already done so, you should retain professional help. Depending on the size of the estate, you may need the assistance of an attorney as well as other professionals in order to properly administer the estate. Typically, reasonable fees associated with professional services you use in order to probate the estate are paid for out of the estate assets . If you find yourself in ths situation, consult with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible to learn of all your fiduciary obligations.