An estate’s executor — the person responsible for administering the estate, also sometimes called the personal representative — is entitled to receive monetary compensation and reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses. There are some limitations to this, however, and the executor should not merely bill the estate for services; the probate court must approve any compensation or reimbursement requests.
When someone dies, all of the individual’s assets including cash, bank accounts, real estate, automobiles, jewelry, electronics, clothes, and any other personal possession becomes part of that person’s estate. Someone who dies with a will is referred to by courts as having “died testate.” Someone who dies without a will dies intestate, and the distribution of his estate is governed by the state’s intestate succession laws.
If a loved one has died, you may have the right to be involved in the proceedings and see the will. There are two different avenues for gaining access to the will:
An individual’s estate is responsible for repaying any debts that the individual left outstanding at death. The executor of the estate will use the individual’s assets — either cash from bank accounts or money gained from liquidating property — to pay back creditors.
Spouses of deceased individuals may worry that creditors will attempt to collect from them after their husband or wife passes away. As with many questions in the law, the answer to whether you are responsible for the debts of your deceased spouse is: “it depends.”
Losing a loved one is difficult enough without all the additional legal hassles. Preparing the deceased’s estate may fall to you if you are named as the executor, and the court will assist you with your obligations if you are unsure of how to proceed. Though you should always rely on the assistance of your attorney or the probate court if you have any questions, the following is a general outline of the steps you must take when someone dies.