Settling the estate trust of someone you care about is difficult and challenging, but it is a process that needs to be done and in a timely and professional manner. Of course, the first question is who will handle the estate? If there is no will, usually the responsibility will go to a sibling or family member. This person will act as Executor or personal representative for the deceased.
If there is a will, then whoever is in the will and designated as the representative, will proceed as Executor and implement what the loved one wants done upon his or her death.
The probate procedure begins once a person has died. The reason that a probate is needed is so that they will can be validated. In addition, it is a necessary procedure so that a qualified representative is chosen so that the desires of the deceased can be put in motion. However, if there is no will, then the surviving spouse will most likely be chosen as the representative. If there is no surviving spouse, then an heir of the deceased may be appointed. But, before this can happen, all other heirs must agree on who is chosen as the representative. Once this is accomplished, then documents can be filled out for all other family members. Each family member will need to sign the papers.
The Steps For the Personal Representative/Executor Are as Follows:
- First, a copy of the will must be obtained. If the will has been notarized, then it is a legal document. If; however, it has not been notarized, then one witness will be needed to go with the representative. This is necessary to validate the decedent's signature.
- Second, you will be to get at least ten certified death certificates. This can be made at the Funeral Home.
- Third, the Executor needs to take the will and certified death certificates to the Surrogate Court in the county where the deceased lived.
- Fourth, the copies of the will should be sent to all of the beneficiaries. This should be done at least 60 days from the probate date.
- Fifth, all of the assets of the decedent must be accounted for. This is vital because as a representative of the deceased you will have to take certain measures to complete the process such as taking care of any bills that need to be paid and closing bank accounts.
- Sixth, should any assets need to be sold, the personal representative may need to open an estate checking account; a step that will make ensuing steps legal and above board.
- Seventh, all state inheritance taxes must be filed within 8 months after the deceased death.
- Also, check on Federal and Estate tax. They may be due and returns may also be required.
Note: It is always good from the very beginning to seek the advice and counsel of a professional and competent lawyer, especially if there are any questions or gray areas that the representative has about the estate trust process or concerns voiced by other family members and friend. Spending an hour or two with an attorney can alleviate any potential problem areas that could spread and cause confusion with the family or others involved in the process.