The process of distributing and maintaining the estate (the total accumulated property) of a person who dies is identified as "estate administration." It is carried out either through the provisions of a will, or local laws addressing the problem of a person who dies without a will.
If the decedent (the person who died) left a will, the process of estate administration in Smithfield Virginia will typically be carried out according to the instructions in the will.
Typically, wills appoint an executor who is responsible for overseeing the administration of the estate, and seeing that its provisions are carried out, to the extent possible.
The executor is frequently the person who will get the most money or property out of the will if it is given effect, because this is the person who will have the greatest incentive to see that the probate process goes as quickly as possible.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If a Smithfield, Virginia will does not name an executor, or no will exists or can be found, it's up to the local court to decide who should be the executor.
This is most frequently the person who would inherit most under the will, or under the intestacy scheme of Virginia. Intestacy is when a person dies without having made a will, or if a will turns out to be invalid. The intestacy laws of each state control how property is distributed in such a situation. In most states, it simply goes to the closest living relative.
If the will doesn't name a person who is to serve as executor, or the person named is no longer alive or cannot be found, anyone with a direct interest in the will can apply to the Smithfield, Virginia court to be the executor.
Whoever ends up as the executor, it is their responsibility to serve as the personal representative of the estate. They will be responsible for taking account of all of the decedent's assets and debts, as well as notifying beneficiaries who may be estranged from the decedent, among other things.
Can a Smithfield, Virginia Estate Administration Attorney Help?
If you have unexpectedly been appointed to be the executor of a relative's estate, and don't know how to handle this process, you should speak with a knowledgeable Smithfield, Virginia wills and trusts attorney.