Richmond Heights, Missouri has a legal process known as "probate." This is when a court decides whether or not a will is lawful, and, accordingly, whether or not to effectuate its provisions.
During probate, the court in Richmond Heights, Missouri will determine the validity of the will, distinguish and inventory the decedent's assets, account for the decedent's debts and back taxes, and distribute the decedent's property, among other things.
Most wills name a specific person as the executor of the estate, but sometimes they don't, or the named executor is dead, out of the court's jurisdiction, or otherwise unsuitable to serve in this capacity. In these cases, a Richmond Heights, Missouri probate court has to appoint one.
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 reason to carry out the duties of the executor.
Duties of the Executor in Richmond Heights, Missouri
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.
Also, it's the executor's job to notify all involved parties that the person who made the will has died. "Interested parties" are generally people who are named in the will, or who would inherit the estate if the decedent had died without a will.
Because people who stand to inherit from the testator may be scattered around the country, or even the world, contacting them is sometimes difficult. One of the responsibilities of the executor is to compile a list of everyone who is entitled to inherit from the decedent, so attempts to contact them can be made. They also have to account for all the testator's debts and assets.
Because the executor serves as the living symbol of the decedent's estate, they are solely responsible for proving the validity of the will. This is a lot of work, but because executors are usually chosen based on how much they stand to inherit from a will once its validity is confirmed, they have a good incentive to see the process to completion.
How Can A Richmond Heights, Missouri Lawyer Help?
Because of the complexities involved in probate, it would be a good idea to consult with and retain a Richmond Heights, Missouri attorney who specializes in probate, especially if you are the executor of an estate.