After a death in Oklahoma City, Kansas City, or surrounding areas, it is normally necessary to engage in a probate process to facilitate the transfer of the deceased person’s assets. Probate usually takes months and can take years if there are disputes or the estate is especially complicated. During probate, someone has to be in charge of the assets before they can be transferred to the new owners.
The person to be in charge of the probate assets can be chosen by the deceased in his or her will or appointed by the court. This person is called an executor, personal representative, or if there isn’t a will, an administrator.
The executor or personal representative is responsible for asset management and should be represented by an experienced probate attorney. Parman and Easterday represents executors and personal representatives as well as beneficiaries who want to make sure their assets are being managed appropriately. Give us a call today to find out more.
Who Takes Care of Assets During Probate?
When a legally valid will is created under Kansas, Article 6 or Oklahoma, Title 84 , it will be enforced by the Court during the probate process. The person who created the will names someone to serve as the executor, and the executor is in charge of managing the assets and taking the legal steps necessary to guide the will through the probate process.
The executor must not only file court paperwork for probate, but must make an accounting of the estate, pay creditors and bills, change titles and ownership of the deceased’s accounts, and make sure the assets are kept safe during the probate.
If the person was named as executor in the will cannot or will not serve, or if an executor was not named, the court will appoint someone to serve as personal representative or estate administrator. In such cases, the personal representative or estate administrator will be in charge of managing the assets.
As a general matter, people usually name close family members to serve as executors. Close family members are also usually chosen by the court to serve as personal representatives if an executor has not been chosen. An experienced attorney can provide assistance to executors, personal representatives and estate administrators in making certain they fulfill their duties in accordance with the law and with the wishes of the deceased.
What Happens if Assets are Not Managed Properly
Executors or personal representatives must put the interests of the estate first. They have a legal duty called a fiduciary duty, the highest duty owed under the law, and a breach of duty can have grave consequences. Appropriate legal action can be taken if the executor or administrator fails to fulfill these responsibilities and assets are not properly managed.
The court can order the removal of an executor or a personal representative if the person is not doing his or her job. In addition, civil action can be instituted against the executor seeking personal reimbursement for losses occurring to the estate. If an executor removes estate property for personal use, those who should have inherited under the terms of the will can file a lawsuit to get the property back or be compensated for its value. Such heirs should be represented by a legal professional who will make sure executors or personal representatives are doing their jobs or take legal action when problems arise.
Getting Legal Help from a Probate Lawyer
If you are an executor, personal representative or beneficiary and you want to ensure assets are being properly managed, Parman and Easterday can provide the advice you need. We assist you in understanding your responsibilities and in protecting your rights after a death has happened.
To learn more about the probate process in Kansas or Oklahoma, join us for a free seminar. You may also call us today at (405) 703-9987 or (913) 385-9400 or contact us online to speak to a member of our legal team for personalized advice specific to your situation.