Probate Administration

Written by Jared Vincenti
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Once you die and your property goes to probate, someone must be in charge of taking inventory of your property, paying off your debts, and distributing your remaining possessions to your heirs. This person is referred to as the executor of your probate, and should be specified in your will. If you do not have a will, the state will assign a lawyer to be the executor of your estate.

What Your Executor Does

When an executor is named for your estate, either by you or by the state, the first thing he must do is to come up with an accurate inventory of your possessions, investments, and assets. Then, he must use the goods from this inventory to pay off any outstanding debts, as well as estate taxes on the property. If you have a will, you can specify to your executor which assets are to be used for paying debts and which are to be given to your heirs.

In fact, having a will is very important when it comes to the proper distribution of your estate. When you die without a will, your state of residence must divide your property, and going through probate court can take up to two years if the estate is disputed by your heirs. The terms of a will may not be violated, unless your property must be sold to pay off creditors. Beyond the resolution of debts and taxes, your property will be divided as you specify.

Usually, your executor will either be a family member or your lawyer. If you do choose to name your lawyer as executor, you may specify in your will that your executor must consult with certain family members before the estate is finalized. These consultants may be named in your will, and their advice will be considered in the event of any unforeseen challenges in dividing your estate.

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