The Probate Process
When someone passes away, their estate will typically go through a court-managed process known as probate. Probate allows for all assets of the deceased to be managed and distributed to pay off debts before passing on to any beneficiaries.
To completely settle the affairs of one's estate, not only are assets distributed, but debts are paid and there is an opportunity to resolve remaining questions or legal conflicts that might arise. While every probate case is unique, most involve the following:
- Locate a Will
- File a petition with the proper probate court
- Notify heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors
- Manage the estate
- Perform an inventory of assets
- Liquidate assets
- Pay debts, estate taxes, if applicable
- Final distribution of assets
- Close the estate/resolving any remaining conflicts
The probate process can be complicated, lengthy, and expensive. The larger the estate, the more complex the case likely is and the more help you're likely to need. Anyone who has been named to execute or administer the estate should contact a probate and trust administration attorney as soon as possible.
The distribution of assets can happen in a few different ways, including the transfer of title, specific beneficiary designations, or through probate and trust administration. Securing a strong legal advocate in your corner early on will help ensure a smoother process in the probate or estate administration process.