Probate Process

THE PROBATE PROCESS

The Probate Attorney or nominated person will present the Will to the probate courts in the county where the deceased resided, or where the deceased owned real property if the deceased person passed away out of the area. If there is no Will, someone must ask the court to appoint him or her as administrator of the deceased estate. This can be one person or multiple people. Often, the spouse or an adult child of the deceased will request to be appointed. Once the executor or administrator is appointed by the courts that person becomes the legal representative of the estate.Will or by the court process. begins when the executor or administrator is nominated by the deceased in the probate processWhen an estate goes to Probate that is the process where the deceased’s debts and real property are settled. The legal title to the deceased’s real property held in the deceased’s name alone and not divided by law is transferred to heirs or beneficiaries. If the deceased had a Will and the Will is acknowledged as valid, and the deceased had real property subject to probate, the

BASIC STEPS OF THE PROBATE PROCESS

First, you must file a petition and give notice to heirs and beneficiaries. to admit the Will and appoint an executor is the first move. Or, if there is no Will the probate courts will appoint an administrator to the estate. Normally, notice of the court hearing regarding the petition must be provided to all of the deceased’s heirs and beneficiaries. If an heir or beneficiary objects to the petition, the heir or beneficiary will have the opportunity to do so during the probate court hearing. You may request to call in to speak with the judge if you are unable to appear in person but a valid reason must be provided. The notice of the hearing is published in a local newspaper in most cases. The newspaper publication is used to notify others when failing to reach them by mail and to try and give notice to any unknown creditors of the deceased.probate courtsFiling of the petition with the

Second, the court will appoint someone. The representative must give written notice to all known creditors of the estate and complete an inventory of the estate property, which includes real estate and personal belongings. An inventory of the deceased probate property, including real property, money, stocks, bonds, business interests, and any anything else presumed to be an asset, is considered. A court-appointed appraiser will determine the value on real property assets. When deemed necessary, an appraiser is hired by the estate to appraise all the deceased’s non-cash assets.  The representative or the attorney you hire will give written notice to all creditors of the estate based upon state law; any creditor who wants to make a claim on an asset of the estate must make their claim within a limited period of time (check state laws).

Third, all of the estate and expenses plus any debts and income or real estate taxes must be paid by the estate. Any other final bills identified by the estate will need to be paid as well; it is normal for the representative to keep some funds in reserve to ensure all debts are paid in full. In most instances, the representative may be permitted to sell estate assets to satisfy the deceased’s debts.  The representative of the estate must determine which creditor's claims are legitimate and pay those bills.

Fourth, title to the property is transferred according to the Will or under the laws of intestate (if the deceased had no will). Following the above is a waiting period (check with the courts) to allow creditors to file claims against the estate, and all verified claims and bills are paid in full. Often, the representative petitions the court for the authority to transfer the remaining assets to heirs or beneficiaries as listed in the deceased’s last will. If there is no will, then the courts will follow the State’s intestate succession laws. If the Will calls for the creation of a trust to benefit a minor, spouse or incapacitated family member, funds are then transferred to a trustee, unless the heir or beneficiaries of the estate waive this requirement. Check state laws but the petition may include an accounting outline of exactly how the assets or funds were managed during the probate process. Finally, once the petition has been granted, the representative may have an escrow company create new deeds for real property, transfer stock and liquidate assets, and transfer property to the appropriate parties while keeping very clear records in case of any future legal disputes amongst heirs or beneficiaries.

Losing a loved one is difficult on many levels. The legal aspects of settling the loved one’s affairs can be an unexpected and emotional difficulty if not handled properly. The more organized the estate is, the more help that can be to the surviving family members: for example, a properly drafted Will by an individual should be reviewed by an attorney or free legal service and should be updated every few years to account for changes in life or changes to new or eliminated assets. For the family members working through Probate, knowing more about the process, consulting experienced professionals, being organized with paperwork, and—most importantly—working together as a family are all important strategies to successfully navigating through the process.


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