Is Just the Executor Required to Be at Probate Court?

By Teo Spengler

When a person who has a will dies, the will must be validated so that assets can be transferred to beneficiaries named in the will. A probate hearing is one of the beginning steps of that process. Which parties are required to appear at any particular probate hearing varies according to the subject of the hearing and the judge's preferences. Beneficiaries rarely must appear in uncontested probate matters.

When a person who has a will dies, the will must be validated so that assets can be transferred to beneficiaries named in the will. A probate hearing is one of the beginning steps of that process. Which parties are required to appear at any particular probate hearing varies according to the subject of the hearing and the judge's preferences. Beneficiaries rarely must appear in uncontested probate matters.

The Probate Process

When a person dies, her estate assets are transferred to the beneficiaries named in the will. However, this does not happen automatically. Often, a court-supervised process termed probate is required. During probate, the will is proved valid, estate assets are gathered, debts are paid and beneficiaries are identified. The person appointed to steer the estate through probate is called the executor.

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Initial Probate Hearing

Probate often commences when the executor files a petition to probate the will. He must serve notice of the hearing on all interested parties including all named beneficiaries and surviving family members. Although any party may show up, only the executor and occasionally the will witnesses are obliged to appear. If the judge is satisfied that the will was executed properly, he admits the will to probate.

Subsequent Hearings

Subsequent probate hearings can involve any aspect of estate management, from verifying estate debts to will contests. Like any other court, the probate judge can order persons to appear and testify on contested issues. Those required to appear are served written notice.

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Wills in Probate Court

References

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Can Executors of Estates Get Paid?

When a testator draws up a will, she usually names an executor who is responsible for carrying out the will's instructions. When there is no will, the court will appoint a person for the same task, known as a personal representative or administrator. This can be a complex and difficult task since the executor must abide by the law, follow the terms of the will and deal with any controversies among beneficiaries. However, under most circumstances, an executor is entitled to compensation for the service he provides.

Do All Wills Need to Be Probated?

Probate is the legal process for the administration of an estate after a decedent’s passing. The probate process allows the surrogacy court to review the validity of the decedent’s will, interpret the instructions it conveys and distribute the estate’s assets among the beneficiaries. Probate also extends an opportunity for outside parties to file claims against the estate for outstanding matters that the decedent was unable to resolve prior to passing. Probate is not legally required, and in fact, many estates have avoided probate. However, the executor should still consider probate for complex estates, as the process ensures the decedent’s interests are protected and reduces the executor’s responsibilities.

Can One of the Heirs Be a Probate Executor?

When a person dies, property passes according to her will or, in the absence of a valid will, under state intestacy statutes. But most property does not pass automatically upon death. Rather, most estates must pass through a court-supervised probate process, where estate debts are paid, assets inventoried and objections resolved. The person appointed to administer the estate through probate is termed the executor or the personal representative.

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