When a person dies, an estate opens to settle his financial affairs. Setting up an estate can only be done in the name of a deceased person in order to create proper title and settle the estate. Estate accounts cannot open in any name other than the deceased.
The estate account is part of the probate process that distributes the deceased person’s personal property and settles any debts the person may owe after death. The court where the deceased person lived oversees the probate and estate process and will have court files on the estate. If the estate name is not the same as the deceased person, then it is virtually impossible to settle the estate. For example, a bank will not make the proceeds of a deceased person’s individual checking account payable to any entity other than a properly titled deceased’s estate.
Assets and Creditors
When a person dies, an estate notice publishes in the local paper where the person lived. The notice states the name of the estate and executor, and where creditors may make a claim for debts owed. The notice also state that any individual or company that has business with the estate should contact the executor. If the estate is not in the name of the deceased person, the executor may not be aware of all assets and debts owed.
Common naming conventions for estates are similar to “The Estate of John T. Smith, Paul W. Smith as Executor.” When the executor files the last will and testament with the court, the court clerk will open the legal estate titled with the deceased person’s name. The clerk will not open an estate with an improper title unless in error, which the clerk will eventually correct.
Settling estates is not an easy process. In every state there are many probate rules to follow, and the executor has a duty to ensure the estate is properly settled. For an individual executor that does not have expertise in estate settlement, he should consult an experienced probate and estate attorney in his area to assist in the estate settlement process. Fees for attorney assistance are payable from the estate, so the executor will not incur any out-of-pocket expense.