Every will must undergo probate – the court process of validating and executing a will. Once the court is satisfied that the will is legally valid and there are no contests to the will, it sets everything in motion.
However, certain things must happen before the execution of a will and distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. These responsibilities fall on the executor as the person in charge of administering the estate during probate. Their duties include:
Filing the will with the probate court
The person named as the executor must get the testator’s death certificate and a copy of the will for filing with the probate court. This initiates the execution of the will. Usually, the executor will also represent the estate in court until the estate is closed.
Consolidating the estate’s assets and paying off debts
One of the duties of an executor is paying off the estate’s outstanding financial obligations, such as debts and taxes. It involves consolidating all the estate’s assets and settling all valid claims.
Distributing the remaining assets to the heirs
The executor must follow the terms of the will when apportioning each heir their piece of the estate. It is the final step of the probate process and happens after all interests have been settled and there are no pending claims.
An executor must always act in the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries when administering the estate. Otherwise, they can face legal action for dissipating the estate’s assets or using them for personal gain.
Understanding your role as an executor is crucial in discharging your duties and protecting yourself from legal liability during and after the probate process.