Does the Executor of a Will Have to Use an Attorney to Execute the Will?

By Regan Rondinelli-Haberek

When you create a will, you not only leave instructions for how your property should be distributed upon death, you also nominate someone to administer your estate. This person is known as the executor. The executor is charged with gathering estate property, paying estate debts and making distributions to beneficiaries of the will.

When you create a will, you not only leave instructions for how your property should be distributed upon death, you also nominate someone to administer your estate. This person is known as the executor. The executor is charged with gathering estate property, paying estate debts and making distributions to beneficiaries of the will.

Hiring an Estate Attorney

For a will to be legally effective, it must be submitted to a court for probate. Whether or not an executor must use an attorney to shepherd the will through the probate process differs from state to state. For instance, in Mississippi, if a will is submitted for probate, the executor must hire a Mississippi probate attorney. However, in New York the choice to hire an attorney is in the executor's discretion. You can check with your local probate court to see if an attorney is required to probate a will in your state.

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When an Executor Should Seek Help

Depending on the complexity of the estate, it may be wise for the executor to consult an attorney even if not mandated by law. For instance, if an heir contests the will, or if the executor anticipates a will contest, he should contact an attorney sooner rather than later. An executor bears the responsibility of prudently and efficiently managing the estate, and is accountable to estate beneficiaries. Anytime he feels overwhelmed or confused, he would be wise to contact an estate attorney to guide him through the process.

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Executor & Beneficiary Rights to an Estate

Executors and beneficiaries of a will have a unique relationship under the law. An executor’s role is to ensure the management of a deceased person’s estate complies with the decedent’s will and the probate rules of the state where he died. The executor also has a responsibility to the decedent’s beneficiaries to ensure each one gets the property the decedent wanted them to have, as defined by the will. This process can become difficult if the executor is also a beneficiary of the estate. Therefore, it is vital the executor and all beneficiaries have a clear understanding of what rights they have regarding an estate.

What Do I Do if My Father Had a Will & Has Died?

As soon as your father died, his property became his probate estate. If he left a will, his property will probably be distributed according to its terms by the probate court. You must complete certain steps to get the probate process started. Although all states apply the same basic principles, the specifics of the probate laws of individual states often differ.

New York Estate Law When the Executor Dies

New York, like all other states, recognizes a written will as the proper method for making your wishes known as to the distribution of your assets when you die. The executor is the person named in the will to see that the terms of the will are carried out. If an executor dies before she has completed her duties, the court must appoint a new executor.

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