Smithfield, North Carolina 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.
In the probate process, a Smithfield, North Carolina probate court has various duties, including ruling on a will's validity, making an inventory of the estate's assets, and making note of all the decedent's debts. Once the will is determined to be valid, the court will distribute the property according to its terms.
Typically, the executor of the estate is named in the will. However, if nobody is named as an executor, the probate court in Smithfield, North Carolina will appoint an administrator to serve the role as the executor. This is typically 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 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 Smithfield, North Carolina
Executors of estates have a various distinct responsibilities. First, the executor must start the probate proceedings. Probate almost always needs to be completed before the property in an estate can be released according to the terms of the will.
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.
If the decedent was even moderately well-off financially, it's likely that they'll have substantial amounts of both debts and assets. The executor is tasked with drafting an accurate accounting of the debts and assets of the estate, so as much of the decedent's debts can be paid off as possible.
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 Smithfield, North Carolina Lawyer Help?
Because of the difficulties involved in probate, it would be a knowledgeable idea to consult with and retain a Smithfield, North Carolina attorney who specializes in probate, especially if you are the executor of an estate.