The process of distributing and maintaining the estate (the total accumulated property) of a person who dies is known 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 Sammamish Washington will usually be carried out according to the instructions in the will.
Wills typically name an executor. The executor's role revolves around ensuring that the instructions in the will are implemented.
The executor generally has at least some work cut out for them. This obviously raises the issue of compensation. The easiest way to ensure that the executor does his or her job is simply to appoint the person who has the most to gain from the will. That way, they cannot inherit until the process is finished.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If the will in Sammamish, Washington does not name an executor, or the decedent left no will to be found, the court has to appoint a person to serve as the administrator of the estate.
This is typically the person who will benefit the most if the will is executed. If there is no will (a situation known as "intestacy"), Washington has a system of laws distributing the decedent's property to his or her closest living relative. In such a situation, the closest living relative has the most to gain from an orderly administration of the estate, so they will typically be appointed.
If no executor is named in the will, anyone with a stake in the will can apply to the court in Sammamish, Washington to be the executor of the estate, if they wish.
Once an executor is appointed (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 protect its interests to the fullest extent possible. They also are required to accurately inventory the estate's debts and assets, as well as notify potential beneficiaries.
Can a Sammamish, 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 experienced Sammamish, Washington lawyer who can help you navigate this sometimes-convoluted process.