Then one can simply walk away, arguably. Allow me to explain.
When someone passes away, then their estate has to be distributed. The problem is that without probate - with assets such as titled property or bank accounts - this is hard to do. This is because you cannot switch over the assets without an order from the probate court, and simply a Certificate of Death will not do. A Certificate of Death simply states that someone has passed on, but does not give you the right to really do anything in the deceased's name.
So one files probate. Once probate is filed, the Executor of the estate gets something called a Letter of Testament/Administration
(hereinafter "Letter"). This Letter will allow the Executor to switch over the assets from the deceased individual to whoever will own the property. It is like a "Power of Attorney
," but from the Court. Without that Letter, there is no way to transfer titled property and switch the assets into the beneficiaries
' hands. The Executor also distributes non-titled property per the will (if there is one) or default succession laws of the state.
However, being an Executor is voluntary
. One is not compelled to be an Executor. So if one has no interest in serving in the position and has nothing that they want from the state, they can simply elect not to file probate. Another family member/friend may do so (any interested party may file probate and/or ask to be Executor).
Nor is one liable for an estate's debt.
So one can simply walk away if one wishes to do so; yes.
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