Buffalo, New York has a legal process known as "probate." This is when a court decides whether or not a will is legal, and, accordingly, whether or not to effectuate its provisions.
As part of the probate procedure, the court in Buffalo, New York 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.
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 unfit to serve in this capacity. In these cases, a Buffalo, New York 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 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 immersed in. If an executor needs to be appointed, a court normally 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 Buffalo, New York
There are quite a few things that an executor is responsible for. At the outset, they are required to file the probate action with the appropriate court. No progress, let alone any final disposition of the estate, can be made until this happens.
Executors must also notify anyone with an interest in the will of the death of the decedent. Individuals with an interest in the outcome of probate are those who are named in the will, or anyone who would likely inherit if the will is invalidated (close relatives, for the most part).
The executor will also have to gather and make available a list of all of the decedent's debts and assets, as well as a list of those who stand to inherit from the decedent.
Finally, executors have to actually put forth the effort to show that a will is valid. As the sole legal representative of the estate, this is their job, and is required for them to inherit, giving them an incentive.
How Can A Buffalo, New York Lawyer Help?
Because this process can be fairly convoluted, it is not a bad idea to consult with a brilliant probate lawyer in Buffalo, New York, especially if you find yourself as the executor of an estate and don't know how to proceed.