We know that the concepts and “legalese” around executing a will and administering an estate can be overwhelming. Here are some answers to the most common questions our clients ask us.
A will is a legal document in which someone can state who should get his assets when he dies, who should be the executor, where he should be buried, etc. Assuming that a will meets the legal requirements, such as having two witnesses, it will control who inherits how much.
Probate is the process in which a deceased’s affairs are settled, namely paying creditors and getting all of the assets to whoever inherits. After someone, usually an heir, files certain papers with the court, the court will admit the will if there was one and appoint someone to be executor (also known as a personal representative or administrator).
Someone who has a connection to the deceased, usually an heir or will beneficiary, can file a petition in the court of the county where the deceased last lived to open a proceeding. The person submitting the petition can nominate himself or anyone else to be the executor. If nobody objects, the court will appoint the nominee as the executor and give that person a document, often called “letters of authority” or something similar, which will prove that the person is the executor.
An executor has all the rights and powers that the deceased would have if he or she were still alive. An executor has rights to claim all of the deceased’s assets but also any related records from employment, banking, etc.
That depends. Some probate cases are pretty simple, but some can be very complex and time-consuming. Since most attorneys don’t charge for an initial consultation, it’s best to talk with an attorney before starting probate.
A power of attorney, often called a POA, is a written, legal document by which Person A gives Person B authority to act on Person’s A behalf while he or she is still alive. Actions that a POA can allow include handling financial affairs and consulting with doctors.
The legal term for when someone dies without a will is “intestacy.” When that happens, the law dictates who are the heirs and what each heir inherits. Those amounts vary from state to state.
An executor is responsible to take control over the deceased’s assets – tangible items like a house and its contents as well as bank accounts, stocks, insurance policies, etc. Once he has done that and paid all known creditors, the executor can distribute the assets—or their cash value if he sold them—to the heirs or those who were named in the will. An executor can also be called an executrix (when the executor is female), personal representative, or administrator.
The court will conduct a hearing and listen to each side’s argument and then decide whom to appoint.
That depends on the state where the deceased last resided, but normally the answer would be “yes.”
The absence of a will does not mean that the deceased had no assets or you cannot inherit. It merely means that he or she did not specify who should get the assets. When there is no will, we follow “intestacy” law. Each state has an intestacy law that dictates who inherits what when there is no will. The surviving spouse sometimes gets everything and sometimes shares with the deceased’s children or other descendants.
No. A power of attorney automatically expires when the person who gave it dies. For someone to get the powers that a POA granted, a court must appoint that person as executor.
We’ve created a free checklist for you that addresses this exact question. Download it here.
This is one of the biggest hurdles that executors face – how to track down assets when you have so little information. We’ve spent many years in the asset location and recovery space, so we have a lot of experience and contacts that we leverage to help our clients discover hidden or unrealized assets.
That depends on a number of factors, mainly how many different assets the deceased had as well as which entities currently hold them. In our experience, for example, some life insurance companies are much more cooperative than others. No matter what, know that we will do whatever it takes and work as long as we have to recover as much of the assets as possible. The average executor could spend more than 500 hours at his duties. Our job is to reduce that by hundreds of hours for you!
Absolutely! We work with executors and heirs all over the world.
My deceased family member resided out of the country where there is a language barrier for me to access information. How does Inherit More handle this?
Thanks to our many years of experience in asset location and recovery, we have developed an extensive network in many countries around the globe.
While we certainly encourage everyone in the family to be on the same page, we only need to work with whomever the court appoints to represent the estate.
Wills don’t have to and often don’t list all of the person’s assets. Some wills might direct who gets certain assets and then should include a “residuary clause,” which says who gets whatever wasn’t specified. For example, John Smith could have specified in his will that Son A would get John’s Facebook stock, Son B would get John’s 1967 Ford Mustang, and Son C would get the residue. The residue is simply everything that was not specifically given to someone in the will.
In many cases where an estate is taking a while to administer, the Executor/Executrix/Personal Representative can distribute many of the assets to the heirs.
We work on a strict contingency basis. That means that you pay us nothing up front but just give us a percentage of the value that we deliver to you.
Yes, you can absolutely execute an estate on your own. Many people do it every day. But many executors don’t have a clear picture of how much work and effort it takes to be an executor. There is a significant learning curve. You could spend literally hundreds of hours in this process. At Inherit More, our goal is to not only take the burden off your shoulders but to use our extensive network of contacts and our years of experience to make sure that all of the assets are located and allocated to the proper heirs. Typically, the assets we locate more than cover the costs associated with our service.
If you decide to work with us, we’ll schedule an initial intake interview with you and take care of all the paperwork. We may have some follow-up questions, but otherwise, we’ll take care of everything else. Our job is to take this heavy burden off your hands and save you hundreds of hours.
We would work with whomever the court appoints to represent the estate.
We are not just your investigator but your advocate to maximize your inheritance. If that means going to bat for you, we will do it.