I’ve Been Named the Executor of a Relative’s Will in Indiana. Now What?



Losing a loved one can be hurtful, stressful, or even frightening. If you are nominated as the executor of that person’s estate, you may be wondering how to proceed with your legal obligations while working to manage your own feelings and needs. Having a basic understanding of what an executor is and the role they play in administering an estate can help you regain some peace of mind. For specific guidance on your exact situation, it is advised that you consult with a knowledgeable estate administration attorney.

What Are the Duties of an Executor?

A last will and testament, commonly called a will, is a legal document that describes how a person’s property and assets should be transferred after their death. An executor is a person named in the will who is responsible for overseeing this legal process, known as probate. The executor will need to submit the deceased person’s will to the probate court in the county in which the decedent (also known as the testator) resided at the time of their death and petition to be appointed as the executor of the will. Once the will is admitted to probate, an experienced estate administration attorney will work with the executor to:

  • Contact beneficiaries named in the will 
  • Publish a notice to creditors of the testator’s death
  • Determine the value of the decedent’s assets
  • Ensure all debts and taxes owed by the estate have been settled
  • Distribute property or assets to legatees

Other Considerations for the Executor of a Will

If you have been nominated as the executor of an estate, having an experienced advocate guide you through this process may make it easier and provide valuable benefits. Each case is unique and should be analyzed carefully, but here are a few circumstances in which hiring a probate lawyer may be beneficial.

The decedent owned a large or complex set of assets. Some items are easier to value and distribute than others, and some assets may not need to go through probate at all. But if you’re unfamiliar with the probate process, making these determinations on your own can be difficult, especially when the number or amount of assets involved is unusually high.

Conflict exists among the beneficiaries or surviving family members. The decedent may have believed that their will would clearly express their wishes for distributing property and assets, but emotions and family dynamics can sometimes complicate the process or lead to misunderstandings. Having an informed and neutral person to handle these situations can help avoid or resolve conflicts.

The estate may not have enough assets to satisfy its debts or obligations. The decedent may owe debts at the time of death, including final medical bills, and the estate may also have to account for taxes. If the assets in the estate are not likely to cover these obligations, a knowledgeable estate administration attorney can assist the executor in properly settling the debts.

Not all estates require the opening of a probate estate. Depending on the size of the estate and the nature of the assets, an experienced estate administration attorney can guide you in understanding alternatives to the probate process. 

Help is Available for Executors

Ensuring a loved one’s final wishes regarding their estate are carried out can be stressful, but it can also be an important way to honor their memory. If you’ve been nominated as the executor of an estate in Indiana and need guidance on the probate process, the attorneys at Spagnolo & Hoeksema, LLC, are here to assist you. Call our office today to request a free consultation.

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