The Role of Executors and Administrators in Probate

When a person dies, their estate often goes through a legal process called probate. Probate ensures the deceased’s debts are settled, and their remaining property is distributed according to their wishes (if there’s a will) or state laws. At the center of probate are two key figures: the executor and the administrator.

What is an Executor?

An executor is named in the deceased person’s will. They are responsible for carrying out the instructions specified in the will. This can include:

  • Locating the will and filing for probate: The executor submits the deceased’s will to the probate court.
  • Gathering and safeguarding assets: They must identify, collect, and protect all assets belonging to the estate.
  • Paying debts and taxes: The executor uses estate funds to pay outstanding debts, taxes, and any final expenses.
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries: Once all debts are settled, they distribute remaining assets as per the will’s instructions.

What is an Administrator?

If the deceased person died without a will (intestate), the probate court appoints an administrator. This person is usually a close relative, like a spouse or adult child. The administrator essentially has the same duties as an executor but, since there is no will, distributes assets in accordance to state law.

The Probate Process

Probate can be lengthy and complex. Executors and administrators play a vital role by working with the probate court, and possibly attorneys or accountants, to ensure the process runs smoothly. This process might involve:

  • Creating detailed asset inventories
  • Appraisals of property and valuables
  • Publishing notices to creditors
  • Extensive legal filings and court hearings

Rights of Non-Executors

If you are a beneficiary (someone entitled to inherit under the will) or an heir (entitled to inherit under state law if there’s no will), you have specific rights during probate, including:

  • Information: You are entitled to regular updates and accountings from the executor/administrator on the estate’s status.
  • Contesting actions: You can challenge the executor’s or administrator’s decisions if you believe they are not acting in the best interests of the estate.
  • Timely closure: You can petition the court to expedite the probate process if you feel it’s being unnecessarily delayed.

Inheritance Advances

The probate process can take months or even years to complete. If you are a beneficiary or heir, waiting for your inheritance can be financially challenging. Inheritance advances provide a solution. Companies specializing in these advances can offer you a portion of your expected inheritance upfront. This provides immediate funds to cover expenses or other needs while the estate is being settled.

Understanding Your Role

Whether you are the executor, administrator, or a beneficiary, understanding the roles and rights of everyone involved in the probate process is crucial. It ensures your loved ones’ wishes are properly honored, the estate is handled efficiently, and your own rights are protected.