Probate Attorney Greenfield IN
Greenfield, IN Probate Lawyers: Dickmann Reason Bogigian & White
The probate process is required to prove a will exists and is valid, identify the assets of the decedent, appraise all of the assets and distribute property in accordance with the terms of the will or as outlined in state law.
The probate process in Indiana can be greatly simplified if there is a will in place or in the event the decedent’s property is held jointly or in TOD (transfer on death) accounts.
There are some specific assets that need not go through the probate process including:
- Assets that are jointly owned
- Assets that have a TOD (transfer on death) designation
- Retirement accounts and life insurance policies with named beneficiaries
- Assets held in a trust where a successor trustee is named
THE ROLE OF THE ESTATE ADMINISTRATOR
If someone passes away without a will in place, this is known as dying intestate. When the deceased had the foresight to create a will while he or she was still alive, they will choose an executor of their estate. If they die intestate, the court will appoint the executor.
The executor is essentially the person who will be in charge of administering the decedent’s estate throughout the probate process. This individual has a lot of legal power and responsibilities, but they also have a fiduciary duty to make sure they are acting in the best interests of the decedent. To ensure a successful probate process, it is best for the executor to work with a skilled probate attorney from Dickmann Reason Bogigian & White.
Whether an estate executor is appointed by the courts because a decedent is considered “intestate” (e.g. had no will) or when an executor is appointed by the decedent in a will, there are specific responsibilities that the executor or administrator must carry out:
- Cataloging all belongings and assets
- Compile all debts and obligations of the decedent
- Obtain an appraisal of assets
- Pay all debts and obligations
- Notifying beneficiaries of a reading of the will
- Distributing assets in accordance with the decedent’s wishes
- Filing final tax returns and closing estate
Executors will take into account possible objections and challenges to the will that are raised by the decedent’s beneficiaries, creditors, or other family members. The position of executor should not be taken lightly, as it is a serious role. As such, an executor is typically compensated for their time. If you have questions about acting as an executor, it is important to speak with a probate attorney.
Responsibilities of an Executor During Probate
An executor’s duties will begin even before they are officially confirmed by the court. The first responsibility is to make sure the decedent’s will is filed with the probate court. The executor will need to determine the right venue, and this will be based on where the decedent lived or owned assets.
Next, the executor will file a petition for probate, which needs to be done within 30 days. If they fail to do so, the court may decide the executor is not fit to administer the estate. Once the court officially approves the executor’s position, they will have the legal authority to proceed with the probate process. The executor will receive official paperwork that will be shown to financial institutions and agencies to get assets ready for distribution.
One of an executor’s most complex duties is gathering the assets of the deceased and determining their value. They must also determine the amount of debt owed by the decedent. The executor is required to let heirs and creditors know about the person’s death.
Executors must complete a full accounting of the assets and show how they were distributed to the beneficiaries. The accounting will also detail all the work the executor did during the probate process, which includes a list of payments made and any actions he or she took on behalf of the estate. Once everyone agrees on the accounting, and after the distributions have been completed, the executor will ask the court to close the estate, at which point the probate process will be complete.
Tips for Executors
Acting as an executor is an important job. There are some things executors can do to help make the probate process run a little more smoothly. These include:
- Set up a separate account for the estate that can be used to pay expenses and track the accounting.
- If the will does not specify how to distribute assets or administer funds, the executor should propose a plan for doing so. Some options to consider may include selling all property and distributing the proceeds between the decedent’s heirs. Beneficiaries will typically need to sign an agreement before it will be approved.
A probate attorney from Dickmann Reason Bogigian & White can assist the executor in both of the above tasks.
Contact Our Probate Law Firm for Assistance
Being an administrator or executor involves a fiduciary responsibility and there are time frames under which certain steps must be taken. Whether you need assistance with understanding your role as an executor, filing estate tax returns, or understanding Indiana’s probate process, contact Dickmann Reason Bogigian & White today to schedule a consultation with a dedicated probate attorney. We help clients in Greenfield, Fortville, New Palestine, McCordsville, Hancock County, Indianapolis, Shelbyville, Morristown, Knightstown, Anderson, Pendleton, New Castle, Connersville, Rushville, Fishers, Geist, Carmel, Shelby County, Henry County, Hamilton County, Madison County, Marion County and central Indiana areas.