Probate Executor Overseeing as Administrator Through Probate Process.
The probate executor plays an important role in overseeing an estate held in probate. When a person dies without executing a Revocable Living Trust, all of their assets must be transferred to probate court. If the decedent executes a Last Will and Testament, their chosen probate executor is designated within the document. If the decedent dies intestate (without a Will), the probate court will appoint an estate administrator.
The probate executor is responsible for handling the decedent's financial affairs and distribution of assets. If the decedent's estate is valued under $50,000, the estate executor might be able to take care of matters without the assistance of a probate attorney. However, in most probate cases the services of a lawyer will be required to ensure legal documents are filed properly and in a timely fashion
When the decedent has executed a Will, the probate executor must adhere to the distribution outlined in the document. An exception to this rule occurs if the Will is contested by an heir apparent. When no Will has been executed, the executor will follow directions provided by a probate judge.
In most instances, the estate executor is responsible for making funeral arrangements. If the decedent has pre-arranged their funeral, the executor's duties are limited to contacting relatives and friends, purchasing burial clothing and finalizing plans with the funeral director. If no funeral arrangements are in place, the probate executor will be required to select a coffin, purchase a burial plot or arrange for cremation.
If the decedent has purchased life insurance, the funeral home will require a copy of the policy. If the policy does not cover the full cost of burial, the estate will be responsible for the remaining balance. If no life insurance exists, the decedent's estate or family members are required to pay for services rendered.
Upon the decedent's death, the probate executor must contact the Social Security office if the person has obtained a social security card. If the decedent received social security or disability benefits and receives payment after their death, the check must be returned. If funds are direct deposit, a refund must be distributed. If the decedent received Medicare or Medicaid benefits, the probate executor is required to inform the agency of the decedent's death.
A Notice to Creditors must be submitted to each of the decedent's creditors. This includes credit card companies, lending institutions, department stores, gas cards, unsecured loans and collection agencies.
The probate executor is responsible for cancelling automobile, homeowners or rental insurance policies upon settlement of probate. Insurance policies should remain in place and be paid by the estate until distribution has taken place.
During the probate process, the probate executor is required to provide detailed inventory of all assets owned by the decedent. This includes real estate, financial portfolios, automobiles, recreational vehicles, household furnishings, jewelry, artwork, clothing, etc.
Within nine months from the date of the decedent's death, the probate executor is required to file a final tax return. Upon completion of probate, the executor oversees distribution of assets.