If someone dies, the estate may have to go through probate. The person who is mainly in charge of this process is the executor or personal representative.
If the will names this person, it is the executor, while if the court appoints the individual, it is a personal representative. If you are this named person, you have many responsibilities, including following the instructions laid out in the will.
The general probate process
According to FindLaw, the probate process is fairly simple in Arkansas if it is an uncontested estate. Small estates, which are those valued at $100,000 or less, may bypass probate if there are no claims against the estate and at least 45 days have passed since the death of the decedent.
Once the court approves you as an executor or appoints you as the personal representative, you can file a probate petition. All interested parties may attend the petition, and if the judge accepts the will, probate can begin.
Responsibilities of the executor
According to AARP, your main roles as executor are to manage the estate, which includes property, cash, investments and other assets, and to distribute assets according to the will. You must inform secured creditors and potential creditors about the decedent’s death to give them a chance to file a claim for debt payment. You must also locate and inform all named beneficiaries. Other responsibilities you may have include:
- Pay off the estate’s debts
- Collect debts that others owe to the estate
- Maintain real property and pay ongoing bills
- Identify, locate and safeguard property and assets
- Open a separate bank account for the estate
- File and pay taxes for the estate
You pay bills and debts from the estate’s cash and the liquidation of the estate’s assets, if necessary. After paying all bills and filing the final tax returns, you can distribute the rest of the assets to the beneficiaries and then your job is complete.