What is probate is a fundamental question that crosses one’s mind when one wants to know about inheritance of a deceased person’s property. Probate basically refers to the process of settlement of a person’s estate after his or her demise. The process comes into picture to clear the outstanding debts of the person concerned. In short, probate is the legal process conducted under the court’s supervision. It involves gathering of the said deceased person’s different assets, his debts as well as taxes, and then making a distribution of whatever remains among the inheritors.
Just like any other legal process, probate also occurs in some organized steps. If you are aware of these steps, even though it may be your first time, things become easy for you. Let us walk through steps in detail.
Step 1: Authenticate the Last Will or Testament Through Probate
The first steps of a probate process includes the authentication of the last will or testament of the deceased. Many state laws require the person in possession of the deceased’s last will to present it before the court as soon as possible. At the same time, an application or a petition initiates the probate process of an estate. Some states also require you to submit the death certificate along with the testament. The court depends upon the witnesses to justify the real nature of the will. Also, the hearing presents an opportunity to anyone who wants to object to the will or the appointment of the executor.
Step 2: Appointment of the Executor Through Probate
The second step involves the court appointing an executor or a personal representative. The executor would be responsible for overseeing the probate procedure and also settling the estate. Though the will already mentions the choice for executor, the court will appoint the executor in cases where there is no will. It may be a spouse or a child. However, if the appointed person denies, the court appoints someone else.
Step 3: Post The Bond
Following the appointment, the executor has to post the bond before they can process the estate. However, sometimes the will includes information about no need to post the bond. Some states allow the beneficiaries to reject the requirement of a bond. However, some states make it a necessity. This rule becomes imperative when the executor is someone different from the nominated person in the will.
Step 4: Taking Possession of Deceased’s Assets
It is the role of the executor to take over the possession of all the deceased’s assets. This is necessary so that the executor can protect these assets during the probate process. This may be difficult in situations when there are talks about hidden estates. There may be some estates which may have got no mention in the will by the deceased.
Step 5: Notify the Creditors
Next step involves identifying and notifying the creditors. Most states ask the executor to publish the death notice in local newspapers in order to notify the unknown creditors if any. Creditors also get a particular time frame to make their claims against the estate. If the time passes, the court will not allow the creditors to make their claims.
Step 6: Pay The Debts
The following step requires the executor to pay valid creditor claims. The executor can make use of the estate funds to make these payments, including any outstanding medical bills. Completing this step is imperative to cover any loopholes in the probarte process.
Step 7: Distribution of Estate
After the completion of these steps, the executor can file a petition in the court for distributing the remaining estate assets among the beneficiaries as mentioned in the will. The court’s permission is necessary in this aspect to rule out any kind of misunderstanding. Also, the process is necessary to make a proper distribution of the deceased person’s assets in an organized way.
The probate process can be a lengthy and complex one if you are not aware of the right steps. Also, a probate attorney can help you walk through the probate process in a convenient way. Moreover, when you are aware of the steps involved in the process, you can simplify it for yourself and get over the difficulties that you may come across. Remember, since it is a legal procedure, you need to be completely aware of the formalities involved. Some of the common reasons for going through a probate are clearing the title of the property, giving notice to the creditors, and to distribute the property as per the will.