The procedure 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 issue of a person who dies without a will.
If the decedent (the person who died) left a will, the process of estate administration in Auburn Washington will typically be carried out according to the instructions in the will.
Typically, wills assign 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 person named as executor of an estate typically has some work ahead of them. To ensure that they truly follow through on their commitments, most people name as executor the person who will get the most money, or other benefit, if the will is given effect as written. Because an estate can't be distributed until the administration process is complete, the executor has an incentive to see it through.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If an Auburn, Washington will does not name an executor, or no will exists or can be found, it's up to the local court to determine who should be the executor.
This is most frequently the person who stands to gain the most from the will, or who would inherit the most under Washington's intestacy laws. Intestacy is the system that every state has in order to deal with the property of people who die without a will. It typically distributes the property to the closest living relatives of the decedent, assuming they can be located.
When a will is silent as to who should be the executor, any individual who has some direct interest in the result can ask to be named executor by the Auburn, Washington court.
Once an executor is assigned (whether by being named in the will, or on the application of another person), they "step into the shoes" of the estate, and are expected to safeguard its interests to the fullest extent possible. They further are obligated to accurately inventory the estate's debts and assets, as well as notify possible beneficiaries.
Can a Auburn, Washington Estate Administration Attorney Help?
If you find yourself named in a will as executor of an estate, and aren't sure how to meet your responsibilities, or where to begin, it would be a good idea to consult with an efficient Auburn, Washington lawyer who can help you navigate this sometimes-convoluted process.