In Appleton, Wisconsin "probate" refers to the process a court uses to determine whether or not a will is legitimate, thereby deciding if it should be given effect.
During probate, the court in Appleton, Wisconsin will decide the validity of the will, establish and inventory the decedent's assets, account for the decedent's debts and back taxes, and distribute the decedent's property, among other things.
Wills normally name the person who is to serve as executor of the estate. If no executor is named, the Appleton, Wisconsin court will appoint an executor. This is normally the person who stands to gain the most if the will is found to be legitimate.
The executor is the person who has to get the ball rolling on the probate process, and basically serves as a living representation 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 immersed in. If an executor needs to be appointed, a court normally chooses the person who will inherit the most if the will is given effect, since that person will have the most reason to carry out the duties of the executor.
Duties of the Executor in Appleton, Wisconsin
Executors of estates have a many distinct responsibilities. First, the executor must start the probate proceedings. Probate almost always needs to be finalized before the property in an estate can be released according to the terms of the will.
They further are obligated to provide notice to the people with a direct interest in the estate that the decedent has died, normally by filing a death certificate.
If the decedent was even reasonably well-off financially, it's likely that they'll have considerable amounts of both debts and assets. The executor is tasked with formulating an accurate accounting of the debts and assets of the estate, so as much of the decedent's debts can be paid off as possible.
Additionally, the executor is obligated to take a leading role in showing the validity of the will. The executor obviously has an incentive to see the process through, since they cannot inherit until probate is complete.
How Can A Appleton, Wisconsin Lawyer Help?
Because this process can be fairly difficult, it is not a bad idea to consult with a seasoned probate lawyer in Appleton, Wisconsin, especially if you find yourself as the executor of an estate and don't know how to proceed.