When a person passes away with a will, that will should contain the name of the person who will serve as executor and who will see the will through the probate court process. The probate process can be a complicated process, but it is essential that most estates pass through probate in order to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are respected and the right person inherits.
Biddinger, Bitzer & Estelle, PLLC can provide representation to executors as they fulfill the requirements associated with winding up an estate in probate court. If you have been named as the executor for a friend or loved one’s estate, give us a call as soon as possible so we can help you to understand your obligations and fulfill your duties. Some of the many different things that an executor must do are explained below, so you can get an idea of some of the many different tasks our legal team can help you to complete.
Filing court paperwork
An executor has to file probate paperwork with the court and must file the right forms based on whether the deceased person made a will or whether intestacy laws are going to apply to determine who will inherit. Executors must also make certain to find the most up-to-date will to be probated and must submit that will to the court so the validity of the will can be determined and the deceased person (the decedent) can have his or her instructions followed regarding how assets are to be distributed after death.
The executor of an estate must notify all interested parties of the probate court proceedings. This includes notifying heirs or beneficiaries who could inherit money from the deceased person. There are also others who may have to be notified of the death of the decedent. For example, creditors have the opportunity to make a claim on the estate of the decedent if the decedent owed the creditors money. The executor needs to work with a probate lawyer in order to determine who needs to be provided with notice of the probate proceedings so the executor can fulfill his obligations.
The probate process can take many months to complete. As the executor goes through formal court proceedings, the assets of the decedent also need to be managed. The assets must be protected so that there is no loss due to neglect. The executor has to do things like pay bills that are due, collect payments that are due to the decedent from people who owe the decedent money, and otherwise take any essential steps to manage property and investments. The executor is not allowed to act in his own best interests, to use the money from the estate for his own purposes, or to do anything that could present a conflict of interest. The executor’s responsibility is to the decedent and to the heirs or beneficiaries to ensure that the inheritance the decedent left behind is protected.
Complying with tax requirements
The decedent has a responsibility to comply with all IRS tax requirements, including obtaining a tax ID number for the estate if necessary. On larger estates, the estate may have to pay an estate tax. The executor should work with an attorney to determine what tax requirements must be fulfilled and whether taxes have to be paid.
Facilitating the transfer of assets
The purpose of the probate process in probate court is to make sure that assets of the decedent are transferred to the appropriate people in an orderly fashion. The executor has the ultimate responsibility of actually making sure that the asset transfer can occur. The executor will need to go through the legal process of changing deeds, titles, and other former declarations or ownership to the people who are supposed to inherit based on the instructions left in a valid will or based on intestacy laws if there is no valid will providing instructions for any of the money or property that the decedent left behind.
Getting Help During Probate Court Proceedings
Biddinger, Bitzer & Estelle, PLLC can provide representation to executors throughout the entirety of the probate process. Our legal team knows the ins-and-outs of Michigan’s probate laws and we can help you to work within the probate court system to fulfill your duties. To find out more about the probate process, join us for a free estate planning seminar. You can also call us today at (989) 872-5601 or contact us online for personalized assistance in fulfilling your obligations as an executor.