When a person who lives in Indiana passes away, someone must be appointed to manage the closing out of all of their affairs with the state. This is to ensure that all estate assets have been inventoried, accounted for and distributed to creditors or to beneficiaries. This executor, also known as a personal representative, is the individual who has authority to make decisions on behalf of the estate and to carry out these final affairs of the deceased to ensure that probate is transmitted to the court and closed out appropriately. The rules related to the appointment of a personal representative in Indiana are memorialized in the Indiana Probate Code- IN Code § 29-1-10-1 et seq.
Where no estate plan exists or when a will does not name an executor in Indiana, the court still must appoint this personal representative because of the many duties and the tasks associated with this role. Having more than one executor appointed to an estate can prove problematic and could even lead to conflicts which is why most people name only one executor. As an Indiana executor duties lawyer can tell you, the responsibility of serving as executor can take a great deal of time. This time investment is even greater when the estate is disorganized, when assets are difficult to locate or when beneficiaries open legal disputes against the estate like will challenges. In all of these circumstances the executor is the one who must continue to represent the estate’s interests and to keep beneficiaries and other relevant parties notified of the ongoing situation. When you have been appointed as an executor and are not sure of how to proceed, meeting with someone who has experience may the best way for you to get an overview of your responsibilities and to ensure that you create a checklist that accomplishes all of these imperative tasks. An Indiana executor duties lawyer can help you avoid many common missteps that could expose you to personal liability or delay the probate of the estate.
What Is an Executor’s Role in Indiana?
An executor’s role begins by notifying creditors about the opening of the estate and informing beneficiaries as well. The executor then takes on the task of finding all of the different assets inside the estate. This can include collectibles, jewelry, personal property, real estate, and more.
The executor, however, does not have the responsibility to manage non-probate property, such as proceeds from a life insurance policy that will pass directly to a beneficiary the deceased individual has already named. The executor then inventories all of these materials and compares them against creditor claims and debts of the estate.
In priority order, that executor then must begin paying out these creditor claims before any remaining funds can be passed on to an estate beneficiary. This can be frustrating for beneficiaries who anticipated that the process would be much easier but it is still the responsibility of the executor to uphold the law and to process things in priority order. Some executors do not feel confident serving in this role on their own or are worried about the exposure to personal liability.
Hiring an executor duties attorney in Indiana can help to clarify many of the most common questions presented with typical Indiana estates and can add a layer of authority to the decisions made by the executor. Most executors want to close out probate as quickly as possible and allow beneficiaries to receive assets that the deceased intended for them.
Unfortunately, many different things can derail the prompt processing of a probated estate which is yet another reason to retain legal counsel who has familiarity with this aspect of the law. You certainly don’t have to do this alone, nor should you. Protect your rights and the process by working with an executor duties attorney serving Indiana who is very clear on the process and common pitfalls.