Probate is necessary after almost all deaths, and it is the formal process by which the property of the deceased is transferred to new owners. All of the legal matters associated with winding up the estate are also handled during the probate process.
The probate process is generally overseen by an executor, who has significant responsibilities from the time following the death until all of the affairs of the estate are settled.
If you have been named as the executor in someone’s will, you need to get legal help fulfilling your responsibilities so you can make sure the wishes of the deceased are honored and that you live up to your legal duties. Zimmer Law Firm can help. Give our Cincinnati probate lawyers a call to find out about the assistance we offer to executors throughout the probate process.
What are the Responsibilities of an Executor During Probate?
When someone creates a will, that person names an executor. It is the job of the executor to manage assets and move the will through the probate process. The executor has certain duties under the law, and there are consequences for not fulfilling those duties. As a result, many people who serve as an executor will get legal help to ensure they are able to properly honor the deceased and to comply with their legal obligations.
The Ohio State Bar Association provides details on some of the responsibilities an executor has during the probate process. The executor must:
- Care for the property of the deceased person until the property is transferred to new owners.
- Initiate the probate process, including filing all court paperwork. If there was property owned by the deceased in multiple states or counties, probate may have to occur in different locations.
- Receive any payments which are due to the estate, including interest payments, dividends, and any other income which is owed. This money must be managed appropriately, and must be kept safe until it is inherited by the person chosen to receive the deceased’s assets.
- Collect debts which are owed to the deceased, as well as collect on any outstanding claims.
- Determine who all of the heirs are. The executor must get the names, ages, and addresses of the heirs and must determine the degree of the relationships with the deceased.
- Determine who all beneficiaries are. If the deceased has left behind a will, beneficiaries are people who stand to inherit. These people may not be relatives of the deceased.
- Investigate whether claims against the estate are valid. A variety of people may make claims against the estate and the executor will need to determine which are legitimate legal claims.
- Pay all outstanding obligations the estate owes. It is up to the executor to pay creditors and to pay all valid claims during the probate process.
- Secure an appraisal of assets and file an asset inventory, if necessary. If there are questions about the value of the estate and whether it will be taxable, an assessment may need to be conducted.
- Plan for and file all relevant estate tax returns and income tax returns which are required. The tax obligations can vary depending upon the size of the estate, whether income is coming in, what other property is owned, and many other factors.
- Make required tax payments. Estate taxes will be assessed only if the estate value exceeds the excludable amount. This amount is currently set at $5.45 million as of 2016.
- Carry out all instructions of the probate court related to the estate and related to the process of distributing assets to heirs.
- Facilitate the final transfer of assets to all beneficiaries. This can include changing titles and deeds.
- Terminate probate proceedings.
The work of the executor will be supervised by the judge in the probate court. It is important for an executor to do his job correctly throughout each step of this process, so consulting an experienced probate lawyer may be a wise choice.
How can a Cincinnati Probate Lawyer Help?
Zimmer Law Firm can offer invaluable assistance to executors, as well as to heirs and family members during the probate process. If you want assistance fulfilling your responsibilities as an executor or if you need help making sure an executor is managing your inheritance properly during the probate process, give us a call at 513.721.1513.
You can also join us for a free seminar to discover more about how the probate process works and about how an experienced Cincinnati probate lawyer can help to guide you through the process of winding up the affairs of an estate.