A will executor has a very important role when it comes to handling the legacy that another has left behind. An executor is someone the decedent listed in his or her will to manage and protect the estate during the probate process. Executors can be family members, close friends, legal professionals or anyone else the decedent felt was right for the job. The decedent may have even appointed a backup executor, in case the first was unable to or did not want to fulfill the duties.
If you have been assigned the role of executor and want to know more about probate, a lawyer can give you advice. In many cases, a lawyer works alongside the executor as a resource for information and guidance when needed as probate continues on.
How Probate Begins
Probate typically starts when a petition is filed to probate court, where the will must be verified before the executor can begin managing the estate. Beneficiaries are notified of the hearing and have the opportunity to object to the petition if they want. However, these hearings are usually just formalities and are fairly straightforward. Publishing the hearing in a newspaper can be a useful way for unknown creditors to become aware of the death, and submit a collection claim to the court. There is only a certain period of time creditors have to come forward.
Taking Inventory of Assets
Perhaps one of the most tedious tasks that a will executor likely has to perform, is taking a full inventory of all items owned by the decedent. These could be vehicles, homes, collections, jewelry, retirement benefits, life insurance policies, 401k, stocks, bonds, and more. Taking inventory may be relatively easy if the decedent left behind an organized file of documents for assets. If the decedent did not, then the executor may have to do some digging to uncover everything he or she may own. If you need assistance locating all of the assets within the estate, a lawyer can give you suggestions on how to find these items.
Paying Taxes, Debts and Other Expenses
Funeral costs, taxes, and outstanding debts are all paid from the estate. Another responsibility of the executor is to decide which claims from creditors or other entities seem well-founded. If any of the claims filed seem suspicious, you may want to get a second opinion from a probate lawyer Cherry Hill, NJ trusts. The last thing you want is for the decedent’s estate to suffer from a scam. If any claims don’t seem quite right, it may be better to ask a legal professional before paying out. The last step is finally giving beneficiaries what they were assigned from the decedent’s estate as described in his or her will.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning and the probate duties for a will executor.