or most people, one of the primary motivations for creating an estate plan is to ensure that their estate assets are distributed according to their wishes after they are gone. Most people also use a Last Will and Testament as the estate planning tool of choice to achieve that goal – at this in their initial estate plan. As your estate and your family grow, however, you may recognize the need to expand your estate plan as well.
The loss of a family member, or close friend, is never easy to handle. On the contrary, the days and weeks after losing someone close to you are typically filled with grief and other strong emotions. If you recently lost a loved one, and also learned that you were appointed as the Executor of the estate by the decedent, you may be wondering how you can handle the duties and responsibilities of being the Executor while also trying to manage the emotional impact of your loss. Fortunately, help is available. Phoenix probate lawyers can help you fulfill your role as Executor so that you can focus on the emotional aspect of your loss.
What Does the Executor Do?
An Executor, or Personal Representative under Arizona and New Mexico law, is appointed by the Testator, the maker, in a Last Will and Testament. In general, the Executor is responsible for overseeing the probate of the estate. Some of the numerous duties and responsibilities of an Executor include:
- Managing estate assets – the Executor must try and identify and locate all estate assets and then secure those assets as soon after the decedent’s death as possible. In addition, a date of death value must eventually be ascertained for each asset and an inventory may be required by the probate court. Estate assets must also be divided into two categories – probate and non-probate assets. Non-probate assets bypass probate altogether and may be distributed to the beneficiaries immediately.
- Notifying and paying creditors – as soon as the probate process is underway, creditors must be notified either personally or via publication in a local newspaper. Creditors then have a specified period of time within which to file a claim against the estate. The Executor must review all claims and approve or deny them. If approved, they must be paid out of available assets.
- Defending the Will – if someone challenges the validity of the decedent’s Will that was submitted for probate, the Executor must defend the Will throughout the subsequent litigation.
- Paying taxes – every estate is potentially subject to federal gift and estate taxes. Therefore, a tax return must be prepared and filed and any tax owed must be paid.
- Distributing assets – at the end of the probate process the Executor must facilitate the transfer of the remaining estate assets to the intended beneficiaries.
How Can Phoenix Probate Lawyers Help?
The job of Executor can require a considerable amount of your time and attention. To ensure that the probate process is handled efficiently and without costly errors, many Executors retain the services of a probate attorney to help them. Some of the numerous ways in which a probate attorney can help an Executor include:
- Understanding and interpreting the terms and provisions in a Will and/or trust.
- Ensuring that assets are properly categorized as probate or non-probate assets.
- Preparing and filing the legal documents needed to initiate the probate process.
- Reviewing creditor claims to ensure only valid claims are paid.
- Assisting with the sale of assets if the estate lacks liquidity.
- Helping you defend the Will in a Will contest.
- Ensuring that all documents are in place to legally transfer assets to the new owners.
- Providing legal advice throughout the probate process.
- Acting as your voice when beneficiaries, heirs, or creditors have questions or concerns.
Contact Phoenix Probate Lawyers
If you have additional questions or concerns about the job of an Executor, or any of the other issues probate lawyer can help you with, contact the experienced Phoenix probate lawyers at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.