When you use a last will to pass along assets to your loved ones it is important to understand the fact that this document is going to have to be probated before the estate can be closed. Probate is a process that takes place under the supervision of the court. In a probate the first thing that the court must establish will be the actual validity of the will itself. Since the probate proceedings are open anyone who wanted to contest your wishes could do so before the probate court. Minimizing the risk that someone will challenge or contest your will is one of the reasons why it is important to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney.
The realities of probate are something to consider when you are choosing your executor as well. There may be interested parties aside from your heirs seeking satisfaction from the estate, such as creditors, claimants, and tax collectors. Assessing the validity of any such claims and ultimately satisfying them, if necessary, is one of the responsibilities that the executor must undertake, and of course this requires a good bit of business acumen.
In most cases the executor will have to bring in a probate attorney who has experience navigating these waters. He or she may also have to engage the services of a tax accountant, an appraiser or appraisers, and a company that specializes in liquidating estate property. Once the will has been deemed valid, debts have been paid, and all the assets have been properly prepared, the executor distributes inheritances to the heirs of the deceased in accordance with his or her wishes as stated in the document.
Depending on the size and scope of the estate all this can take a lot of time, so that is something to take into consideration when selecting an executor. The role of executor can be challenging, so if you don’t personally know anyone who would seem like a good candidate, you can retain the services of a professional executor. This may be something you would want to discuss with your estate planning attorney.
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