This question was posed to me by a friend recently, and to answer his question and shed some light on the topic in general, I wrote today's blog. The following six (6) points require these definitions:
Testator– living person who writes a will identifying his or her wishes upon death
Decedent– a deceased testator
Heirs– family members, friends, pets, and organizations that the Testator has identified as receiving some portion of his or her property
An executor or executrix will generally…
1. Admit the Decedent's will to probate in the county where he or she died;
2. Admit the Decedent's will to probate in the county where his or her property is located;
3. Take the oath of the Executor, confirming that the will is valid to his or her knowledge and promising to faithfully execute his or her duties under the will;
4. Creating an inventory and accounting (also known as an appraisement) of the decedent's property including
- Personal assets
- Personal debts
- Closely held business assets
- Closely held business debts
5. Making distributions to decedent's end of life creditors including, but not limited to funeral expenses, medical bills, nursing home costs, and all other outstanding undisputed legal debts; and
6. Making distributions to decedent's heirs.
Most people fail to realize that probate is intended primarily for creditors. If there is anything left after the debt collectors have been paid, those funds become someone's inheritance, some organization's endowment, or (in rare cases) property of the state.