If you don’t know what the probate process entails, it is something you may want to learn more about in the near future. While you never know if you will be faced with this process, there is a good chance you will at some point down the road.
When a loved one dies, it is common for his or her property to pass through probate. This doesn’t always happen, such as if the person had a trust, but it’s something you want to better understand nonetheless.
Follow these Steps
There is nothing simple about the probate process, but at the same time, it’s not something that is so complex that you will never be able to figure it out.
Here are some basic steps you need to take along the way:
- File a petition. In short, you need to file a petition with the probate court in order to get the process moving forward. At this point, you will admit the will to the probate court and appoint the executor. If there is no will, an administrator of the estate must be appointed.
Note: this is also the best time for all heirs to be notified of the person’s death.
- Give notice to all creditors. It is the job of the personal representative to give notice of death to creditors while also taking inventory of all estate property.
This is never a simple process, especially in the event that the person had a complex financial life full of many assets and debts.
- Pay all expenses from the estate. This includes but is not necessarily limited to funeral expenses, other final expenses, taxes, and debts.
While not always the case, there are times when the personal representative needs to sell assets to satisfy debts.
- Property is transferred in accordance with the will or state laws. Once the waiting period comes to an end during which creditors can file claims, once all bills are paid, the personal representative seeks court approval to transfer remaining assets to the beneficiaries as outlined in the person’s last will.
Don’t Rush the Process
Although you want to put the probate process in the past as soon as possible, this is not a time to rush. If you get too far ahead of yourself, it’s possible that you could make a mistake that causes you stress in the long run.
It is best to move through the process one step at a time, with the help of the court, to ensure that you don’t make any mistakes. When you take this approach, everything is handled in the appropriate manner at the right time.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney
You are not required to hire a probate attorney to assist with the process, but it is typically in your best interest due to all the responsibilities you will be faced with.
A probate attorney can do many things for you, starting with guiding the process from beginning to end. It is likely that you don’t know the finer details of the probate process, especially if you have never gone through this in the past. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can show you the way.
Your probate attorney can also help by:
- Answering all of your questions.
- Making you aware of common mistakes that have plagued others.
- Providing you with advice based on past experiences.
- Helping you remain organized from beginning to end.
- Tying up all loose ends once the probate process is finalized.
As you can see, there are many things an attorney can offer during this difficult time.
Do you have questions about probate? Do you worry that you won’t know what to do if the time comes? We can help you overcome this challenge. Contact our law firm and we’ll step in to assist you every step of the way.
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