As an executor, hearing the word “probate” probably causes some anxiety and fear, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Probate is a legal process in which the court supervises the settlement of an estate after a person passes away. You may want to avoid probate if possible, but many steps you must take now are needed regardless of whether the will is probated formally in the court system or not. Keep in mind that the probate process does take time, and you may be subjected to follow the court’s mandated schedule, so don’t anticipate a speedy resolution.
To be nominated for the role of executor imposes a degree of trust that you will act with integrity for the deceased’s last wishes. It is a duty that a person may be overwhelmed to find out they must fulfill, however, it means the testator had immense faith in you.
Probating a will means that a judge or court will need to review the deceased’s will and oversee the distribution of the estate as it complies with laws for the jurisdiction and the instructions in the will itself. The court may be part of many aspects of closing the estate, such as ensuring laws are abided by, assets are properly transferred, and that the executor is not acting in bad faith with the deceased’s estate.
An executor must always act in the best interest of the estate, and cannot make decisions for personal gain. If an executor is found to be violating their duty to the estate, then the court may remove them from their position and appoint another person to serve that role instead. As a team member from Carpenter & Lewis PLLC would offer, examples of tasks that an executor may have to perform include:
- Paying owed income taxes
- Paying necessary continuing expenses to keep assets secure (like utility bills insurance and mortgage payments)
- Locating assets for the estate and safeguarding them
- Handling tasks such as notifying banks and creditors of the deceased passing, terminating leases, and other contracts
- Communicating with beneficiaries and keeping them up-to-date on the progress and financial transactions for the estate
- Supervising asset distribution and submitting petitions with the court
- Hiring an appraiser to value property
- Setting up a bank account for the estate and brokerage accounts as needed
An estate plan that is not complicated can finish probate in as short as three months or so. But if the estate is not simple, or the will is contested, then it can take a year or longer to conclude. An estate may have to go through probate, regardless of whether a will exists or not, based on how assets are kept in the estate.
To be chosen as an executor of someone’s estate is one of the greatest compliments a family member or friend can give you, as the testator had confidence in you that you would handle their after life wishes with respect and diligence. Executors who have questions about probate or other concerns shouldn’t hesitate to get help from a lawyer, like a probate lawyer Knoxville, TN families trust from Carpenter & Lewis PLLC, for guidance along the way. An executor may find that by depending on a legal team, the process of probating and distributing assets from an estate is not as difficult as they first imagined.