When a person dies, a process known as "estate administration" must be carried out. This refers to all the procedures which must be followed in distributing a person's estate to their heirs or devisees.
If the decedent (the person who died) left a will, the process of estate administration in Kansas City Missouri will usually be carried out according to the instructions in the will.
The decedent usually names in the will an executor of his or her estate. The executor is the person whose job it is to take the lead role in the administration of an estate.
The executor is usually whoever stands to obtain the most money or property if the will is given effect, since that is the person who likely has the most incentive to do their part in seeing that the probate process plays out to completion.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If a will in Kansas City, Missouri does not name a person to serve as executor, or the decedent dies without having written a will, the court will appoint a person to act as estate administrator.
This is typically the person who will benefit the most if the will is executed. If there is no will (a situation known as "intestacy"), Missouri has a system of laws distributing the decedent's property to his or her closest living relative. In such a situation, the closest living relative has the most to gain from an orderly administration of the estate, so they will typically be appointed.
In cases where the will doesn't name an executor, or the person named is unable to take on that role for whatever reason, any person who has some direct stake in the decedent's estate (either because they're named in the will or stand to inherit by intestacy) can petition a Kansas City, Missouri court to be appointed executor.
Whoever ends up as the executor, it is their responsibility to serve as the personal representative of the estate. They will be responsible for taking account of all of the decedent's assets and debts, as well as notifying beneficiaries who may be estranged from the decedent, among other things.
Can a Kansas City, Missouri Estate Administration Attorney Help?
If you have unexpectedly been appointed to be the executor of a relative's estate, and don't know how to handle this process, you should speak with a good Kansas City, Missouri wills and trusts attorney.