Your Simple Step-By-Step Guide To Probate

Law Blog

When a loved one passes away, probate is usually necessary. In all but the rarest cases, estates must be filed with the local probate court. Probate is a way of ensuring that people who are owed money by the deceased can be paid, that the will is valid, that all potential beneficiaries are notified of the death, and more. Most cases tend to follow a similar pattern, so read on for a simple step-by-step guide to probate.

The Will is Read and Filed – In most cases, the will is located and read to all those concerned shortly after the death. This may take place in the estate attorney's office.

The Will is Authenticated – Before anything else can happen, the probate court reviews the will. For it to pass through this review, the will must have an authentic signature and be the "last will". If other versions of the will are located, the most recent valid will is used.

An Executor is Appointed – In some states, this important position is called a personal representative. If the will does not name an executor, the probate judge will name a close relative, family friend, or attorney to serve in the position. In some locations, executors are paid a fee for their services – often a percentage of the total value of the estate. Depending on the size of the estate, this job can either be simple or fairly complicated.

The Assets of the Estate Are Inventoried – To determine the worth of the estate, an inventory of all assets must be performed. This task usually falls to the executor, but a professional may be brought in for real estate, art, jewelry, and collectibles held by the estate.

Creditors are Identified – As mentioned above, the probate process serves to ensure that creditors are paid. To facilitate that effort, a notice is often placed in a local newspaper announcing the death and urging creditors to come forward with any claims on the estate.

The Financial Obligations of the Estate Must be Settled – The Executor is empowered to use estate funds to satisfy creditors, particularly when income or property taxes are owed. The funds to do so can come from a bank account owned by the estate of the deceased or from the sale of estate property. In the event that a creditor steps forward and the bill is disputed by the executor, a hearing determines the outcome. In the event a beneficiary steps forward and challenges the will, a new case is created and the probate process grinds to a halt until the matter is settled.

The Assets of the Estate are Distributed – All named heirs can take possession of their inheritances and may have the title or deed updated to reflect the new owner. Probate is now complete and the job of the executor comes to an end.

Speak to probate lawyers to learn more.


8 November 2018

File Chapter 7, and Keep Your Home

Many people assume that when they file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they will have to give up their homes and other property. This is not necessarily the case. I am a bankruptcy attorney, and I have helped many clients file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without giving up homes, cars, and other property. When you file for bankruptcy, the property you are allowed to keep depends on your individual circumstances and the state where you live. Most states allow exemption for property you are currently paying for. This blog will guide you through that information and help you determine if filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the right choice for you.