When someone passes away, the individual’s will, if there is one, enters probate. The Indiana probate court judge reviews the will to determine who was named in the document as the executor of the estate. An executor serves as the personal representative for the estate and handles a variety of duties. So, choosing a qualified executor stands as a vital part of estate planning.
An executor’s duties
An executor handles responsibilities related to paying the estate’s debts and then distributing assets to the appropriate beneficiaries. The executor also “stands in” for the deceased to handle various responsibilities, such as filing taxes, closing credit card or loan accounts, dealing with real estate agents or utility companies, and other tasks. The court provides the executor with “letters testamentary,” which is a document validating the person’s standing as an executor.
Sometimes, all the assets in an estate pass to beneficiaries outside of probate. Transfer on death and joint accounts do not require probate. Even so, an appointed executor might need to handle various duties. Maybe an old car must go to the scrap yard. The executor has the authority to sign over the deceased’s title.
Choosing an executor
Estate administration involves many responsibilities, which is why someone must act as the executor. When there is no will, the court appoints the representative. Indiana’s intestate laws guide probate when there is no will, which might not be what the deceased wanted. However, unless someone writes a legal will, intestate laws apply.
During estate planning, choosing the best candidate for executor could be a critical step. A responsible executor might handle the duties as a personal representative with diligence and honesty. Selecting the right person may move probate forward without any unnecessary delays that result in impatient and unhappy beneficiaries.