Chapter IV - Wills Page 02

AN EXECUTOR'S DUTIES

An executor is the legal representative of the testator. It is his duty to see that the provisions of the will are carried out.

No man is qualified to act as executor who is not competent to make a will. Executors, unless relieved by the provisions of the will, are required to file bonds, proportioned to the value of the estate, for the faithful performance of their duties.

Should there be no executor named in the will, or if the person so named refuses to act, or if he dies or resigns, the court will appoint a person to act in his place.

The executor appointed by the court is known or called an "administrator with the will annexed."

In some states the court having jurisdiction of wills and estates of deceased is known as "the probate," in others it is called the "Surrogate's Court," and in still others, "The Orphan's."

ADMINISTRATORS AND THEIR DUTIES

If a man, owning property, dies without making a will, the judge of the proper court will appoint an administrator to settle the estate.

This is the method of procedure:

1. A person, interested in getting the estate settled, goes before the proper judge and asks him to appoint an administrator. 2. The administrator must give the same bond as an executor. Their duties are the same. 3. In settling the estate the administrator is governed by the law, and by the special directions of the officer having jurisdiction in such matters. 4. He must make a careful list of all the property belonging to the estate. The value of the personal property is estimated by men specially appointed by the court for the purpose and known as "appraisers". 5. The administrator must account for every item of property that comes into his possession. 6. All debts of deceased must be first paid, including funeral expenses. If the proceeds of the personal property are not sufficient for this purpose, the administrator may, if there be real estate, sell the whole or part of it, on an order from the court.

DEBTS

Debts must be paid in an order prescribed by law. The following is the usual order:

1. Funeral expenses and expenses of last illness. 2. The widow's allowance or award. 3. Debts due the state or municipality. 4. Claims of other creditors.

Whatever property is left, after paying these obligatory sums, is divided among the rightful heirs under the direction of the court, and in the manner provided by law.

The administrator must advertise, in one or more county papers the fact that he has been appointed to settle the estate of the deceased, whose name is given, and he must ask that all claims be presented within a given period, usually fixed at six months.

When the estate is settled to the satisfaction of the court, the same authority releases the administrator and his bondsmen.

All the fees connected with the settlement are regarded as debts and must be paid from the proceeds of the estate before closing.

THE FINAL SETTLEMENT

When the debts are paid and the residue divided among the heirs, the administrator files his account. If it is allowed the case ends.

The parties of interest in an estate may agree to settle it out of court. This saves expense, but it is not the safest way.

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