After a person dies, his or her
probate proceedings before the will property can be distributed to the beneficiaries.
This post will discuss the duties of an executor and the probate process.
The Executor of the Will
An important decision to include in a will is naming the “executor.”
This should be a trusted person whom you would want to carry out the terms
of your will. It is also advisable to name a successor executor in case
the first named executor is unable to serve.
An executor will decide whether the will needs to go through probate proceedings,
and if probate is required, file the will and other required papers in
local probate court. Managing a will during the probate process can be
a very lengthy process and include substantial fees. An executor also
needs to pay taxes on behalf of the estate and the file the final return
for the deceased, set up an estate bank account for paying bills and receiving
payments, and ultimately supervising the distribution of the will property.
In order for a will to be administered, the executor must file the will
with a local probate court. The probate process can last anywhere from
several months to years, depending on the complexities of the estate.
In general, the probate process gives creditors, beneficiaries, and heirs
notice that the maker of the will is deceased and the will property is
being distributed. The following posts will go into more detail about
the specifics of the proceedings and whether or not an attorney should be hired.
In general, many people criticize the probate process as needless bureaucracy
requiring high fees that diminish the value of the estate. Savvy estate
planners often use various devices to avoid putting property through probate
as much as possible since generally the greater the estate value, the
higher the probate fees. However, defenders of the probate process say
that it prevents fraud in the transfer of property and provides a forum
to promptly resolve any creditor claims on the estate. Certainly if there
are complicated or serious debt issues with an estate, including tax issues,
it is advisable to have the property go through probate.