An element of a last will and testament is designating an individual as the executor. The executor is the person charged with carrying out the wishes of the will writer following her death. Although the will designates the executor, the will alone does not vest the executor with full authority to deal with the affairs of the estate, including distributing assets to the heirs duly named in the document. Before an executor obtains the legal ability to act, specific steps must be taken pursuant to the Uniform Probate Code or similar types of laws in force in each of the states in the United States.
Retrieve the original of the last will and testament. The original will must be presented to the court. A copy of a will is only accepted by a court in the rarest of circumstances.
Obtain a standard form petition for probate of will from the court clerk. The typical court clerk maintains an assortment of commonly used standard forms, including a petition for probate of will.
Complete the petition for probate of will form.
File the petition for probate of will together with the original will with the clerk of the court.
Obtain from the court clerk the date and time for a hearing on the petition for probate of will.
Notify all heirs named in the will of the date and time of the hearing.
Publish a legal notice in a local newspaper announcing the case to admit the will to probate. The date and time of the hearing is included in the notice. The requirements for this publication notice varies from state to state. The clerk of the court should provide you with a sample legal notice as well as the specific requirements for publication.
Attend the hearing on the petition for probate of will. Barring any legitimate objection, the judge issues an order admitting the will to probate. She also executes what are known as letters of executor. The letters grant the executor legal authority to deal with all matters associated with the will and the estate.