If assets are held inside of your Alabama estate at the time of your death, they will likely be subject to probate. The estate executor is tasked with representing your interests during the probate process. You can choose who will represent your estate in your will. Alternatively, a judge may appoint someone to fill this role if you fail to do so or if your chosen representative is unable or unwilling to do so.
What does an estate representative do?
Managing your assets is one of the biggest responsibilities an executor has. Upon your passing, he or she must take steps to safeguard your home, vehicle or other property from being taken. Furthermore, this individual must take a full inventory of your assets as quickly as possible after you pass. Finally, this person must file tax returns, make sure that tax bills are paid and ensure that creditor claims are dealt with in a timely fashion.
An executor cannot distribute assets until given permission to do so
The person who represents your estate will eventually be responsible for distributing assets in accordance with instructions left in your will. However, this cannot be done until a probate judge gives the representative permission to do so. This is typically done after creditor claims and other challenges have been reviewed by the court.
The executor generally has a fiduciary duty to your estate
As a general rule, the executor is bound to make decisions that are in your estate’s best interests. If he or she fails to do so, that person may be removed from his or her post. In some cases, an executor who fails to abide by standard estate administration ethics may face civil or criminal penalties.
Anyone over the age of 18 who is of sound mind may serve as your estate representative. Ideally, the person you choose to be your estate representative will have a thorough understanding of your final wishes. This may help to ensure that your affairs are settled in a timely manner without causing unnecessary rifts between family members.