In a regular sense, most people want to stay out of the personal affairs of others. However, when a loved one dies, it is typically necessary for someone to step in as executor or administrator to settle the final affairs of the estate. This process, known as probate or estate administration, can be complex, and if you have found yourself in the role of executor or administrator, you undoubtedly want to know how to proceed.
First, you may want to determine whether you are an executor or administrator. For the most part, the two terms refer to the same position — the person in charge of closing the estate. If your loved one left a will, you will likely be the executor. If no will exists, the court likely appointed you to the role of estate administrator. Let’s look at how an executor would handle probate.
What’s the difference?
The main difference in how an executor would handle probate is that a document is available — the will — from which the executor can obtain certain instructions. Of course, that does not necessarily mean that the executor will have an easier time handling the required proceedings associated with closing the estate. Some steps that you will likely still need to take include the following:
- Submitting the will to the court for validation and obtaining legal appointment as the executor
- Inventorying the assets to ensure that you can locate them and determine their value
- Sending notices to appropriate parties (e.g., beneficiaries, creditors, benefits agencies, etc.)
- Handling any creditor claims or legal action involving the estate
- Paying outstanding bills using the estate funds
- Distributing remaining assets to the intended beneficiaries
- Selling or discarding any final assets
- Petitioning the court to close the estate and end the probate proceedings
Of course, this list only represents the broad steps involved in this process, and each can have several minor steps within it that you would need to take before its completion. Any missteps could result in complications for the estate and possible liability for you.
Doing your best
While you undoubtedly intend to do your best to close your loved one’s estate properly, you may still want to have some assistance. Fortunately, an Ohio attorney could help you better understand your role as executor, the steps involved with the probate process and how you can avoid mistakes that commonly befall inexperienced executors.