When a loved one passes away, family and friends tend to gather together and share their mutual grief and loss. As a general rule, the last thing people want to think about at this time are the legalities involved in a death. Someone, however, must focus on the decedent’s estate and on the probate of that estate. If your loved one named you as the Executor of his/her Last Will and Testament it means that person is you. Because probate can be a complex and time-consuming undertaking, most Executors turn to an experienced probate attorney to help. The probate attorneys at Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia explain how they can help an Executor to fulfill his/her duties during the administration of the estate.
What Does an Executor Do During Probate?
The primary job of an Executor is to oversee the probate of your estate. Probate is the legal process that is typically required following an individual’s death. The law requires a decedent’s estate to go through probate for several reasons, including to ensure that all of the decedent’s assets are properly identified and transferred to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate. One of the many advantages of executing a Last Will and Testament is the ability to decide who will be in charge of administering your estate. If you were appointed as the Executor of the estate of a recently deceased loved one, it means that your loved one has placed his/her trust and faith in you and your ability to handle the duties and responsibilities that go along with probating the estate. Some of those duties and responsibilities include:
- Locating documents. An original copy of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament must be located and certified copies of the decedent’s death certificate ordered. Any additional estate planning documents should also be located and secured.
- Identifying and securing assets. As soon after the decedent’s death as possible, the Executor should start identifying and securing estate assets.
- Initiating probate. To open the probate of an estate the Executor must obtain a certified copy of the death certificate, a signed, original copy of the decedent’s Will, and a petition to open probate.
- Categorizing and valuing assets. The Executor must obtain a date of death value for all estate assets and decide if they are probate or non-probate assets.
- Litigating any challenges. If a Will contest is filed, the Executor is required to defend the Will submitted for probate throughout the litigation that will follow.
- Paying taxes. The Executor must determine if any state or federal gift and estate taxes are due from the estate and make sure they are paid.
- Distributing assets. The Executor must effectuate the transfer of the remaining estate assets to the intended beneficiaries.
How Can a Probate Attorney Help?
Overseeing the probate of an estate is often a time-consuming and emotionally exhausting job. In addition, navigating the court system can be challenging for an Executor who is unfamiliar with the rules and procedures. Most Executors retain the services of a probate attorney early on because of the numerous ways in which an experienced attorney can help, such as:
- Providing advice and guidance on the law and the court procedures.
- Preparing and filing all documents that must be filed with the court.
- Locating experts to assist with the probate process, such as appraisers, accountants, and real estate agents.
- Defending the estate if a challenge is brought.
- Ensuring that the estate’s tax obligations are met.
- Assisting with the sale of assets if necessary to pay claims.
- Communicating with beneficiaries and/or creditors when questions arise.
- Preparing all documents necessary to transfer assets to beneficiaries and/or heirs.
Contact Probate Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have questions or concerns relating to the probate of an estate or your role as an Executor during the probate process in the State of New York, contact the probate attorneys at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.