When a will is delayed in probate, an individual can apply to be the preliminary executor prior to admission of the will. During this interim phase, certain restrictions are placed on the preliminary executor, yet there are many benefits as well — including the potential to save money in the long-term.
The duties of the preliminary executor include:
• Gaining control of assets.
• Paying down debts of the estate (however, funds cannot be distributed pursuant to the will until the will is admitted).
• Liquidating certain assets and retaining the cash value to use to pay debts. This ability is particularly important if, for example, the preliminary executor believes there is going to be a downturn in the stock market, and the portfolio is mainly comprised of securities.
Once the will is admitted, the liquidated cash can be distributed or used to pay down debts, like on a piece of real estate where there is ongoing fees, like maintenance or taxes. The opportunity to market properties for sale can save a considerable amount of money in the long run — especially if properties are vacant or have outstanding mortgage payments.
During the waiting period during which the preliminary executor is named, it is also important to examine the preparation of the will and ask the following questions:
• Was the will prepared by an attorney?
• Why is the will not being admitted right away? (will contest, court delays, etc.?)
• What cancels were put on the executor bond? (letters testamentary shows that the will has been admitted, and a bond only bonds for the executor prior to the admission of the will).
Contact us if you have questions about becoming a preliminary executor or a will that is delayed in probate.
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