Smithtown, New York has a legal process known as "probate." This is when a court decides whether or not a will is valid, and, accordingly, whether or not to effectuate its provisions.
As part of this procedure, the court in Smithtown, New York has various important responsibilities. Most importantly, it has to decide if the will is valid, and consider evidence that it is not (if any such evidence exists). The probate court then has to ensure that the property is distributed in an orderly manner, as close to the terms of the will (assuming it is valid) as possible.
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 Smithtown, New York probate court has to appoint one.
The executor is the person who initiates probate proceedings. The person who stands to inherit the most from the will is typically appointed the executor, because they will have the most incentive to help the process go as quickly as possible, so they can get their inheritance.
Duties of the Executor in Smithtown, New York
The executor has many duties concerning the will. First, they have to truly initiate the probate proceedings, which must be completed before the will is effectuated.
They additionally are required to provide notice to the people with a direct interest in the estate that the decedent has died, typically by filing a death certificate.
The executor will also have to collect 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.
Because the executor serves as the living embodiment 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 typically 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 Smithtown, New York Lawyer Help?
Because this can be (though isn't always) a fairly confusing process, it's a good idea to get a knowledgeable probate lawyer in Smithtown, New York, especially if you find yourself being the executor of an estate, and aren't sure how to proceed.