In Madison, South Dakota, probate is a legal procedure that a court must go through before giving effect to a will. Before putting a will into effect, a court has to determine that it is valid.
As part of this process, the Madison, South Dakota probate court will determine the validity of the will, inventory the decedent's assets and debts, and then, finally, distribute the estate according to the will, assuming it is found to be valid.
Usually, the executor of the estate is named in the will. However, if nobody is named as an executor, the probate court in Madison, South Dakota will appoint an administrator to serve the role as the executor. This is usually 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 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 inducement to carry out the duties of the executor.
Duties of the Executor in Madison, South Dakota
Executors of estates have a several distinct responsibilities. First, the executor must start the probate proceedings. Probate almost always needs to be finished 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.
There may be several people who are entitled to take under a testator's will, with which the testator may have fallout out of touch years ago. This can make them difficult to find, but they need to be found, nonetheless. To that end, the executor is required to make a list of everyone who might be able to inherit, whether they're named in the will, or closely related to the testator. Additionally, they have to make known all of the decedent's major assets and debts.
Finally, executors have to actually put forth the effort to prove 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 Madison, South Dakota Lawyer Help?
Because of the complexities involved in probate, it would be a good idea to consult with and retain a Madison, South Dakota attorney who specializes in probate, especially if you are the executor of an estate.