In Wakefield, Massachusetts, probate is the process in which a court validates or voids a will.
As part of the probate procedure, the court in Wakefield, Massachusetts will determine the validity of the will, inventory the decedent's assets and debts, then, assuming everything is found to be in order, distribute the estate according to the will.
Usually, the executor of the estate is named in the will. However, if nobody is named as an executor, the probate court in Wakefield, Massachusetts will appoint an administrator to serve the role as the executor. This is usually the closest adult relative of the decedent, or the person who stands to inherit the most.
The executor is the person who has to get the ball rolling on the probate process, and essentially serves as a living symbol 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 involved in. If an executor needs to be appointed, a court usually chooses the person who will inherit the most if the will is given effect, since that person will have the most inducement to carry out the duties of the executor.
Duties of the Executor in Wakefield, Massachusetts
The executor has many duties concerning the will. First, they have to actually initiate the probate proceedings, which must be finished before the will is effectuated.
The executor also has to give those with a direct interest in the will notice that the decedent has died, by filing an official death certificate.
There may be several 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 difficult to find, but they need to be found, nonetheless. To that end, the executor is required 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.
Furthermore, the executor is required to take the lead in proving the validity of the will, effectively acting as the living embodiment of the decedent's estate. The executor is usually 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 Wakefield, Massachusetts Lawyer Help?
Because of the complexities involved in probate, it would be smart to hire a good Wakefield, Massachusetts probate lawyer, especially if you are the executor of an estate and unsure how to proceed.