When an individual passes away without a valid will, their estate must be processed through intestate succession. This probate process includes identifying an executor to carry out the rulings of the court. If you recently lost a loved one who didn't have a will on file, you may wonder who could be appointed as their executor. As a relative, it may be you. Here's a look at what you need to understand.
Who Could Be Appointed As Executor?
When a deceased person's estate reaches intestate because of a lack of an established will, there are some standard procedures used to identify the proper executor. If the deceased was married, a surviving spouse is typically the first choice. From there, most courts follow the next of kin delineation, turning to the deceased's children or other immediate family members first and then branching to extended family before considering close friends.
The court appointment doesn't consider what the deceased would have wanted, because they typically don't know the individual in question. Instead, they follow the legal precedent of the identified next of kin when possible to keep a deceased party's estate management within the family.
What Is The Expectation Of The Executor?
If you're notified that you've been appointed as the executor of a family member's estate following intestate processing, you might wonder exactly what is expected of you. Here's a look at some of the things that you need to know.
First, it will be your responsibility to notify any outstanding creditors of the individual's death. You may have to provide copies of the death certificate, so make sure you obtain a copy beforehand.
In addition, you will also file any outstanding tax returns, pay off any outstanding debts and then inventory the remaining estate following those financial settlements. From there, it will be your responsibility to distribute any remaining assets in the estate according to the inheritance determination of the court.
Can You Ask To Be Considered?
If you're concerned about how the courts might handle a deceased loved one's estate following their death, you might be able to petition the court to appoint you as the executor. You'll want to work with an inheritance law attorney to file the petition, though. That way, you can be sure that it is comprehensive and within the boundaries of the law.
These are just a few of the things that you should understand about serving as the executor of the estate when a loved one passes away without a will on file. For more info, consult with an inheritance lawyer.