Things You Should Know About Probate As An Executor
If you are familiar with estate law at all, you have probably heard of probate. The overall process is a court-supervised ordeal. The court oversees the itemization and distribution of a decedent's assets to his or her intended heirs. As an executor, you will play an integral part in this process. However, one's obligations as an executor (both during the administration and hearings) depend heavily on the applicable law in the jurisdiction. Before beginning your duty as executor, learn about the following considerations.
The Law Varies
The executor's responsibilities can be heavily impacted by the Uniform Probate Code (UPC). Utah is one of the 16 states that have adopted this code as state law. The whole intent behind the UPC is to streamline the probate process. It does so by dividing the probate process in to three distinct paths: informal probate, formal probate and supervised probate.
The most common type used, informal probate, requires a few different steps from the executor. First, the executor (termed the personal representative) has to file an application with the court. This application provides you with the official authority to act as the personal representative. The document that confirms this is referred to as the letters testamentary. Colloquially, you will hear this document referred to as simply "letters."
Starting Off As Executor
Following receipt of the letters, you'll be expected to take care of some paperwork. If you are not working with a probate attorney, you will be responsible for sending written notice to any potential heirs of the estate. You will also have to contact all possible creditors. The purpose of this notice is to allow anyone with an interest in the estate to assert a claim against it. Yet, you're not done yet! You will still have to obtain and submit proof that you have sent out each of the notices. The court will need to see this proof.
In an informal probate, you will need to review and inventory all of the property in the estate. This can include everything from personal belongings to financial assets. During the time between the decedent's death and the distribution, you will bear the responsibility of keeping this property safe. This duty will not end until you finish distributing the assets and close out the estate with the court.
A Look At Supervised And Unsupervised Probate
The supervised and unsupervised versions of formal probate differ quite remarkably from the informal method. Thus, you can also expect that your duties will look different. In an unsupervised proceeding, you may need to obtain permission from the court before distributing or selling assets. The same applies for gifting assets or paying service providers for administration costs. Supervised formal probate is even more strict in terms of when you need to seek out the court's permission. Both of these are more like probate hearings when compared to the paperwork-heavy, informal process.
Executors Don't Have to Work Alone
If you are apprehensive about performing the role of executor, realize you don't have to fly solo. Many executors choose to hire a probate attorney, also known as an estate lawyer, to guide them. A probate lawyer can merely provide legal advice during the probate process, or perform the majority of the duties for the estate. It is a good option if you are unsure about how to proceed.
To work with an experienced attorney in Utah, contact T.R. Spencer Law Office. The firm can assist you with any end of life law matter.