The probate process is basically the legal procedure that initiates after someone’s demise. The process determines who will get the assets of the decedent. Most of the decedent’s assets go through this process, which is supervised by the court. The said process authenticates the deceased person’s will and also appoints an executor. In addition, the process identifies the heir and also distributes the decedent’s property as per the will.
Now, the question is, who can initiate the probate process? Who is the person who has been legally authorized to start the process? Well, it is the executor who is authorized by the court to start and file the probate process. Let us read in detail about them.
Who is an Executor as per Probate?
Now, when a person dies, many people assume that the next of kin would become the executor. However, that is not the case. If there is a will and the decedent has mentioned an executor in the will, it would be his or her responsibility to carry out the process. If there is no will, then the law of intestate succession comes into play. Thus, an executor is a person responsible for managing the decedent’s affairs as well as assets.
Can Someone Else Also Initiate the Probate Process?
Yes, if the executor fails to start the process, someone else can do it. It can be any party who is interested in the decedent’s estate. For example, a creditor or beneficiaries can also initiate the probate process. Also, the probate court holds the right to remove the executor if it finds that the executor is not up to the mark. It is the executor’s responsibility to work in the best interests of the estate as well as its beneficiaries.
Duties of an Executor
The probate process can last for some months or some years. It depends upon the complexities of the case. However, the duties of the executor remain the same, no matter how long the case runs. Here is a chronological order of the same:
Submit the Will to Initiate the Probate
The executor has to submit the decedent’s will for review purposes in the probate court. This submission starts the probate process legally and officially. The executor has to then attend the hearings. During these hearings, the court determines whether the will is valid or not. Also, the court decides whether the will meets the state laws or not. In addition, the hearing gives a chance to people who wish to contest the said will.
Gathering of the Assets
It is the executor’s responsibility to identify the assets owned by the deceased. Also, the executor has to gather these assets for safeguarding and present them whenever asked. This is true in the case of an asset being a jewelry piece or some other piece of artwork. However, if it is a property, the executor has to preserve the property documents. The assets include insurance policies, car loans, mortgages, investment accounts, bank statements, etc.
The executor has to make necessary notifications of the death to concerned people. These include creditors, beneficiaries, etc. The executor also has to cancel the credit cards as well as notify the social security administration about the demise.
Paying the Debts
The executor has to notify all the creditors and also make efforts to pay the outstanding debts. Thus, the executor has to identify the creditors and send them a notice regarding the deceased person. However, if the executor finds creditors to be illegitimate, he or she can deny to pay debts. Also, the rejected creditor can file the petition in the probate court in order to override the executor’s decision. This requires the executor to appear in the court to defend the assets. He can take the help of an attorney to get through the process.
Another aspect that the executor has to look into is to deal with taxes for the decedent’s assets. For this, he has to get all assets assessed for their value to pay the taxes. The executor may also have to prepare as well as file the estate tax return for the income earned through the assets during the probate process.
Closing the Estate
Finally, the executor has to submit an account of the actions as well as transactions that have been made on behalf of the estate. The judge then authorizes the executor to distribute the estate’s remaining assets among the beneficiaries that have their names in the will. However, the condition is that the court should recognize the accounting given by the executor.