When a loved one dies and his or her estate goes into probate, there are a few key people who will be a part of the process. Each of these people has an important role to play. Understanding these roles can help you to better work through probate and have an idea of what will happen.
U.S. News and World Report explains while there may be many different who are part of the probate process, there are four main roles.
The judge oversees the whole probate process. He or she is there to uphold the law and ensure that everything that happens during the execution of the will and other estate documents occurs within the law. The judge also makes rulings on anything that may into question.
When you die, your debt does not go away. If you have assets, your creditors can make a claim on them for repayment of the debt you owe. The judge will make the final decision on paying debts, but any creditor can make a claim for a valid debt to the probate court.
The executor of the estate is the person you choose to manage your affairs. This is usually the person who provides the will to the court and gets the probate process started. He or she will also take care of your assets during probate and ensure they are kept in good condition. He or she also must work to help carry out your wishes.
The executor has the most responsibility during probate. You should always choose someone who is responsible and who will honor your wishes.
The beneficiaries or heirs are those people who benefit from the estate. Anyone to whom you leave something falls into this category. Generally, beneficiaries are only there to collect what you left them, but they may also bring objections that the court must hear.
The process may also involve attorneys and financial experts. It could involve other representatives, as well, but these four roles are the most important and present in all probate situations.