In regard to overseeing a deceased estate, the process is generally called “probate”—a lot of people worry it is intimidating and complex, but it can in fact be as simple as 4 little steps.
What Entails the Probate Process?
Probate relates to the process in which certain of the deceased debts could be settled and the legal title to the deceased assets transferred to heirs and/or beneficiaries.
When the deceased created a will, and the deceased owned property that could be subject to probate, the probate process starts as the executor, that was designated by the deceased in their will, submits the will for probate inside a courthouse in the county in which the deceased resided, or was a property owner.
If there isn’t any will, an individual needs to request to the court to designate them as administrator of the deceased’s estate. Usually, this is the deceased’s spouse or an adult child of the deceased. Following being appointed by the court, the administrator becomes the legal delegate of the estate.
The 4 Fundamental Steps to Probate
If you find yourself attempting to go through the probate process, follow these 4 easy steps:
- Have a petition filed and notify heirs and/or beneficiaries.
Probate starts with the filing of a petition with probate court to either (one) disclose the will to probate and name the executor or (two) if there isn’t a will, name an administrator of the estate. Commonly, notification of the court hearing about the petition needs to be provided to each of the deceased’s heirs and beneficiaries. When an heir or beneficiary has an objection to the petition, they’ll have the chance to do so in court. Furthermore, notice of the hearing will published in local media. This is to attempt to notify others, like unknown creditors of the deceased, of the start of the proceedings.
- Following designation by the court, the administer of the estate notifies all acknowledged estate creditors and take an account of the estate property.
The administer of the estate then gives written notice to every creditor of the estate on the basis of state law; any creditor that wants to make a claim on assets of the estate is required to do so within a restricted time period (that varies state to state). An account of all of the deceased’s probate property, including physical property, stocks and/or bonds, business ventures, among other assets, is recorded. In many states, a court appointed appraiser evaluates the value of the assets. When required, an independent appraiser will be hire by the estate to assess non-cash assets.
- Every estate and funeral expense, any debts and taxes are required to be paid using the estate.
The administer of the estate is required to establish which creditor’s claims are genuine and get those paid and other final bills paid using the estate. In some circumstances, the administer of the estate is allowed to sell estate assets to meet the deceased’s obligations.
- Legal title of property is transferred in accordance to the will and/or under the laws of intestacy (when the deceased didn’t create a will).
After the waiting period allowing creditors to file claims towards the estate, and all authorized claims and bills are paid out, commonly, the administer of the estate petitions the court for the authorization to transfer the left-over assets to beneficiaries according to the deceased’s last will and testament or, if there isn’t will, in accordance to state intestate succession laws. If the will requires the creation of a trust for a minors benefit, spouse or debilitated family member, capital is then passed on to the trustee. Unless the beneficiaries of the estate relinquish the requirement as permitted under many state laws, the petition an include a record of how the assets were managed throughout the probate process. After the petition is awarded, the administer of the estate may draw up new contracts for property, transfer stocks, square away assets and transfer property to the required parties.
A properly created will, updated routinely to document any life changes, orderly records of debts, personal property and other assets will simplify the probate process. The faster it is for your administer of the estate to trail your steps after your passing, the easier probate is going to be.
Renee Hykel Cuddy, E. (2020, September 30). The Probate Process: Four Simple Steps. Retrieved December 10, 2020, from https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/the-probate-process-four-simple-steps
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