A will may designate a representative to distribute a testator’s assets to its proper heirs/beneficiaries upon the testator’s death. This representative is known as an executor. In the event that no will exists, or an executor is not designated, the court will appoint an administrator.
An executor or administrator must prove to a probate court that the testator was legally and mentally capable of creating a will. He or she is also responsible for finding the testator’s heirs/beneficiaries.
A testator’s executor/administrator may determine the need to sell or liquidate the testator’s assets in order to pay off debts or liens. Such a sale must be approved by the court. In the event that the sale of a testator’s real or personal property is not to the financial benefit of the beneficiaries, the court may not grant approval.
If the court does approve the sale, however, a sale can occur.
Assets in a probate court sale can typically be bought at huge discounts. Buyers can place bids. All bids are subject to court approval. Back up bids and late bids can also occur.
9 Standard Duties of an Executor
File the will the proper probate court
Before any assets can be distributed, the will must be filed with the probate court so that the process of asset distribution can begin. This is the step in the probate process when one finds out where property might be distributed to.
Create bank accounts where money will be paid out of and received
A bank account specifically created for the distribution of assets of the deceased party should be created. This helps money coming in and going out be easily documented. Many bills of the deceased party will still have to be maintained such as electricity, water, and others.
Contact lenders and credit card companies of the deceased party’s death
Executor’s must contact creditors of the deceased party to begin the process of closing out the accounts. Government agencies should also be contacted including Social Security Office
Pay off debt
Paying off debt is one of the first real tasks an executor is responsible for. This step helps the executor determine how much the estate is valued at after paying off everyone
Make a list of all the assets of the deceased party
Assets can only be distributed properly when the court knows how assets the deceased party possessed and how the deceased party’s estate is valued at
Which probate process if any are necessary
Depending on the asset, the value of the estate, and whom the assets are being distributed to determines what type of probate should be utilized
Sell assets if necessary
While it may not be necessary to pay off assets, it might be necessary if the deceased party had a lot of debts and liabilities that must be paid off.
Manage property and assets
The executor is responsible for managing property and assets until the court decides whom it should be distributed to.
Distribute assets to proper party’s
Only after determining whom is owed money can the executor determine which party needs to be paid. Distribution of assets is one of the most important roles of the executor.
The above duties provide almost all the roles of the executor however each estate and probate proceeding is specific in nature, therefore not every of the executor is highlighted above. Other duties that might not have been specified above will typically relate to the tasks mentioned above.
Assets Can Be Sold by Agents as Well
Similar to a standard real property sale, property from wills and probate courts can be represented by real estate agents. The fees and commission to which an agent is entitled to receive is dependent on court approval.
The further allocation of a testator’s assets to heirs/beneficiaries will be determined after the net proceeds of a sale are calculated. A property title is not insurable until after the probate is determined. This is because the executor/administrator distributes the assets and no one knows exactly how assets will be transferred until the probate process is finished.