Probate is a word you may commonly hear when discussing the estate and affairs of a deceased person. The word itself comes from the Latin verb probare, meaning to prove, test, or examine something. Probate is the legal process whereby a will is proved in a court of law as a valid document and made as the public record of the deceased. The executor’s role is to show to the court that all steps have been taken to pay the Crown or creditors any taxes or monies owed, as well as delivering the property and funds the deceased appointed or acknowledged within the will in order for the estate to be probated or proven. The executor’s role in probate is time-consuming and important. When selecting an executor (or executors), care should be made towards finding someone(s) who can handle the various responsibilities in a timely and efficient manner.
The executor’s role has many duties, and they are all of equal and vital importance in order for the estate to be administered properly. They must:
- File with the court their acceptance as executor to begin probate
- File for and receive a Grant of Representation or Confirmation
- Open an executor’s account
- Notify creditors, publish all legal notices
- Pay taxes, creditors, and distribute the estate
Of course, taxes and creditors must be paid before the estate may be divided among family members or others that were included in the Will. If there are insufficient funds left behind to cover these expenses, it is up to the executor to sell property in order to raise enough funds to pay for these expenses. If there is not enough, the executor must also file paperwork with the Court to identify the deficit.
In most cases, the executor is able to apportion those who were included in the will correctly, and deliver the various items and properties identified in the will. However, challenges may occur, and they may be responsible for working with solicitors to identify discrepancies and deliver the estate according to the dictates of the court. Once everything has been distributed, the executor then returns to the court with the records and the probate period ends.