Naming the heirs to your assets and properties and the specific amount of inheritance which you intend to leave to each are the primary reasons why the need for a will. A will should also name the person who you would want to be the executor (the person charged with the administration) of your estate. If your will fails to appoint an executor, then the court will name one instead. An executor should be at least 18 years old and has not been convicted of a felony. While some choose a lawyer, an accountant, or a financial consultant as their executor, others choose their spouse, child, relative or very close friend.
The tasks demanded of an executor, besides properly managing your estate, also include: making certain that all the assets and properties mentioned in your will are accounted for; settling all your debts from creditors and taxes; and, after payment of all debts, distributing the remaining assets and properties to all heirs named in the will.
For the executor to be able to perform all tasks, his/her appointment will first need to be declared and proven legally. This legal act proving an executor’s appointment is included in a court proceeding called a probate.
According to the website of Peck Ritchey, LLC, the purpose of a probate is to establish the validity of a will. The whole process actually begins with the filing of your Will at the appropriate court (in the state where you reside). The filing is followed with a request that the court approves your Will, as well as make a formal or official appointment of an executor (an executor who will be formally appointed by the court will be issued a document which proves his/her authority to administrate your estate. This document is called the Letters Probate).
Probates essentially comprise two steps. The first requires payment of all your debts, while the second calls for the distribution of all remaining assets and properties to your heirs. After a death notice (death of the estate owner) has been published in the state’s local paper (this is to give creditors, who may have interest in the owner’s estates, enough period to file a claim against such estate) notice to all heirs identified in your Will should also be made to inform them of any court-scheduled probate.
Due to the many legal requirements associated with making a will or estate plan and the steps involved in the probate procedure (plus the need to know the specific laws of your state regarding all mentioned concerns), it is helpful to seeking the assistance of a knowledgeable, highly-skilled, and experienced probate lawyer. Your lawyer will also help make sure that all necessary legal documents are identify and completed to make sure that your will earns the court’s approval.