In Westlake, California, probate is the process through which a Court determines if a will is valid or not.
As part of this process, the Westlake, California probate court will determine the validity of the will, inventory the decedent's assets and debts, and then, finally, distribute the estate according to the will, assuming it is found to be valid.
Wills typically name the person who is to serve as executor of the estate. If no executor is named, the Westlake, California court will appoint an executor. This is typically the person who stands to gain the most if the will is found to be valid.
The executor is the person who has to get the ball rolling on the probate process, and essentially serves as a living embodiment of the decedent's estate. It is their job to defend the estate from debtors (if a legitimate defense for the debt exists, of course), and wind up any legal proceedings that the decedent might have been engaged in. If an executor needs to be appointed, a court typically chooses the person who will inherit the most if the will is given effect, since that person will have the most reason to carry out the duties of the executor.
Duties of the Executor in Westlake, California
The executor has many duties concerning the will. First, they have to truly initiate the probate proceedings, which must be completed before the will is effectuated.
Additionally, it's the executor's job to notify all interested parties that the person who made the will has died. "Interested parties" are usually people who are named in the will, or who would inherit the estate if the decedent had died without a will.
There may be many people who are entitled to take under a testator's will, with which the testator may have fallout out of touch years ago. This can make them challenging to find, but they need to be found, nonetheless. To that end, the executor is obliged to make a list of everyone who might be able to inherit, whether they're named in the will, or closely related to the testator. Additionally, they have to make known all of the decedent's major assets and debts.
Moreover, the executor is required to take the lead in establishing the validity of the will, effectively acting as the living embodiment of the decedent's estate. The executor is typically the person who will inherit the most once the will goes through probate, so they have a good reason to put in the work to do this.
How Can A Westlake, California Lawyer Help?
Because of the difficulties involved in probate, it would be smart to hire a knowledgeable Westlake, California probate lawyer, especially if you are the executor of an estate and unsure how to proceed.