We cannot avoid death; it is part of our life cycle. When a person dies the decedents, estate undergoes distribution among the heirs. The probate court oversees the partitioning of assets. To help the court distribute, someone needs to stand-in as an agent for the estate. The term executor defines this person He / She works on behalf of the decedent. An executor should help divide the estate by adhering to the demands of the deceased. He / She may need help in doing so. Therefore, they could hire a lawyer.
Executor’s Role In The Probate Process
Will drafting occurs before death. You, as an estate holder, have to make sure to choose someone trusted as an executor(s). The estate’s holder can add multiple executors as well. The executor has to be a trusted individual as he/she will help divide the estate as per the wishes of the owner. When you pass away with no will. The court will nominate a family member to act as an administrator. As an executor, you have duties such as:
Petition The Court
Replicate the will and give the court. This will notify the court that you are the rightful executor named by the decedent. If the family member does not have objections to the will, the process is simple. You should provide proof of death using a death certificate, prove that the will is a legal document. You will also have to prove that you are the person mentioned in the will.
Alert Creditors And Heirs
Once recognized as the executor, start notifying the creditors of the death. Notify the heirs as well. Do not promise anything to the heirs as all debts need settling before division. You have to make sure to identify all the heirs as some of them may be hard to reach. Contact all heirs so that they can be informed of the death and can act accordingly.
Identify Assets And Pay Any Bills, Debts
The executor then needs to locate the deceased person’s assets after the verification of the will by the court. It includes real estate, bank accounts, stocks, or other valuable properties. But a single person can’t locate all the assets individually. There can also be some hidden assets to which are not easy to find. Hence, you must take help from the Probate Attorney Near Me to identify all the assets. When a person dies, there can likely be some unpaid bills or debts on the assets.
It is essential to clear these liabilities before distributing the assets. For this step, you need to notify the creditors about the demise of the person. You can use the local newspaper to inform the creditors. However, there can be some false creditors that can claim fraud debts on the assets. Therefore, you must always take help from a professional attorney. They can identify and keep the false creditors at bay.
Pay Taxes During Probate
As an executor, you should pay all pending taxes. The estate, along with the decedent, will have to pay taxes individually. The executor will also have to pay taxes such as gifts, inheritance, and estate. Gift tax along with inheritance tax is not necessary for all states. As an executor, you have to pay all taxes, including local taxes, personal taxes, and business tax (if any). A Probate lawyer can help you pay taxes before the division of the estate.
Shutting Down The Estate
Once you have paid all taxes and cleared all debts, you can start the distribution process. Upon completion of all the payments, submit the documents to the court. The court will verify them and pass judgment. Once you receive a decision, the asset distribution can take place.
Do You Need A Probate Lawyer
As discussed, Probate is a long process. As an executor, you will surely make mistakes. Since Probate is a legal process, it requires a certain level of skill that a layperson may lack. Mistakes made during the probate process could be costly. These mistakes could result in the estate losing its value. Hence take the help of a lawyer during the court process. The lawyer can assist you in all the court-related tasks. He/She can identify assets and quickly pay liabilities. A lawyer will have a professional attitude. This virtue, along with his / her problem-solving skills, will help complete the process soon.
It can be one of the most challenging times when a family member dies. However, Probate can be a long process. This can keep you away from your family members when they require you most. A probate attorney can handle the process to save time, money, and energy. This assigns the freedom to spend that with your family. You can use this time to help them heal from the emotional pain of losing a valuable person.