Administration of the decedent's estate is all part of the probate process. During this time, an executor or personal representative is often inundated with tasks and responsibilities. Critical to this is knowing what an executor of a will is and what mistakes there are to avoid.
At AJP Law Firm we can help clients through this process to ensure it is efficient and fair. Contact us at (847) 998-9920 to schedule a free consultation today.
What is an Executor of a Will?
An executor is a person whose primary role is to settle the estate of the decedent. In some states, this person is known as the “personal representative.” If the decedent died with a valid last will and testament (Will) in place, meaning they died testate, the executor is to follow the wishes of the decedent as stated in the Will. If the decedent died without a Will in place (intestate), the executor must follow the intestate rules for the state and jurisdiction of residence for the decedent.
What is the Process of Executing a Will in Illinois?
Executing a Will requires that the executor perform certain tasks shortly after the decedent dies.
Filing in Probate. A Will needs to be filed in the probate court. There may be other paperwork the decedent needs to file at the same time.
Gathering Information. The executor needs to begin gathering information, such as identifying the heirs of the decedent as well as the decedent's assets and debts. There may be an attorney or financial planner used by the decedent that can help with the collection of this information.
Establish an Estate Account. The executor will need to set up a bank account in the name of the Estate. This account can be used to hold the decedent's money and pay the decedent's debts.
Keep Meticulous Records. It is important that the executor keep an accounting of any actions taken on behalf of the estate, including the disbursement of any funds.
Distribute Assets. Once the debts have been settled the executor is responsible for distributing the remaining assets to the heirs as stated in the Will.
Communicate with Probate Court. From the beginning of the process, until the executorship ends, the executor needs to keep an open line of communication with the probate court, as there are certain conditions that must be met peculiar to each jurisdiction.
Mistakes to Avoid while Executing a Will in Illinois
Being an executor of a Will can be a tedious and time-consuming task. It is also a job that must be taken seriously to avoid complications.
Some of the more common errors of executors include:
Failure to properly identify all heirs of the decedent
Failure to locate the Will of the decedent
Failure to understand or try to learn how the probate process works
Failure to start the process within a reasonable time after the decedent's death
Errors such as the ones listed above can lead to an estate being tied up in probate for years. Beneficiaries have even been known to sue executors that did not properly execute an estate. In these cases, the courts have been known to remove the executor and replace them with someone else. Also, in some cases, the executor may be held personally liable and responsible for damages incurred. Of course, this depends on the jurisdiction.
When a person dies without a Will, this means they died intestate. The decedent's estate will go through probate court, too, just as the Will goes through probate. The only difference here – which is a big difference – is that the estate will be administered in accordance with the state' intestacy rules rather than the decedent's last wishes. Thus, the state will determine who inherits the decedent's assets, and an estate administrator will be appointed to handle these matters accordingly.
Contact a Probate Lawyer for Decedent's Estate in Cook County Today
Our probate lawyer can help make sure the decedent's estate is administered timely, properly, and efficiently. Contact a probate lawyer today to learn more about probate and estate planning legal services. Contact AJP Law Firm today by filling out the online form or calling us at (847) 998-9920 to schedule a free consultation.