We are often asked how to probate an estate. In giving any reply, we say that there are, generally speaking, three steps in every probate proceeding:-
• the opening;
• the notice to creditors and estate administration; and
• the closing.
A probate is opened by filing a petition in the probate court to have the deceased’s last will validated and to have an executor appointed to administer the deceased’s estate. Where it is intended that the probate is to be formal (supervised by the court), there will be a brief hearing before the probate court. However, if the estate is suitable for informal (unsupervised) probate no hearing is required.
The next stage is to publish a notice in a local newspaper calling for creditors to present their claims to the executor within a specific time frame. If the creditors fail to present their claims, the claims become statute barred and are unenforceable against the deceased’s estate. During this notice period, the executor will be busy collecting in the assets of the estate and managing them.
Once the creditor’s notice period has expired and the creditors’ claims have been paid and the estate has been fully administered, the executor will close off the estate by filing the necessary documents with the probate court. Once this is done, the executor will distribute the deceased’s estate to the beneficiaries named in the deceased’s last will or, where no last will is made, to the deceased’s heirs in accordance with state intestacy laws. In the same way as the opening, the closing can be formal or informal. Similarly, where there is a formal closing, a court hearing will be required. If, on the other hand, the closing is informal, no hearing will be required.
How Can We Help You?
For more information on probate, see some of the other articles on executors and probate of an estate on this website.
For more information on executors and probating an estate, check out our book entitled How to Probate an Estate. It explores the process from the moment the deceased passes away right through to the distribution of assets. Items such as death certificates, autopsies, funeral planning and asset management are discussed at length. It will also show you how to initiate and close probate with ease, learn how to locate and manage estate assets, deal with creditors’ claims, taxes, and trusts, avoid the common mistakes made by many executors and much more….
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