The probate process is a very detailed set of procedures put in place by the courts to ensure the accuracy of disbursed assets when someone passes away. The deceased no longer has a voice, so the courts step in to represent them. It’s an emotional time for the family members involved, and it’s often helpful having a process clearly defined to follow. Some family members have disputes with each other over the assets causing discrepancies and delays. The courts lay out strict criteria to follow especially when no will is present, and debts need settling. Some will argue the probate process isn’t necessary at all when things run smoothly. However, we’re going to cover the process, and you will see why it can help many families during this difficult time.
There are mainly four significant steps involved in the probate process when it comes to assets and property. Some things can be detailed even further when there are complications, but in most situations they’re unnecessary. If the person who passed away did have a will with property subject to probate, the process would start off with choosing an executor. The court would reveal who the executor will be and appoint them. The executor will work with the court and serve as the legal representative of the estate. If there is no will, a descendant will have to ask the court to appoint them as the administrator or lastly, the court will appoint an attorney.
The Court Will Issue A Notice To The Family Members And Any Possible Creditors
The first real actionable step is to file a petition with the Probate Court to determine who the executor will be. If there is a will that states the wishes of the deceased, the court will appoint that person specifically. If there is not a will, the court will designate somebody from the family or an attorney. The court will announce the date of the hearing regarding the executor announcement allowing the family to attend. If a descendant contests the appointee, They will have an opportunity at the hearing to express their views. The courts will also notify the newspaper with an announcement of the hearing, so any unknown creditors have an opportunity to respond.
Taking Inventory And Giving Notice To All Known Creditors.
The second major step involves the administrator or executor giving written notice to all known creditors. This official action gives the creditors a limited time frame to respond to claim assets. This time frame can vary in duration state-by-state. It’s important to have the creditors aware in writing so they can come forward as quickly as possible. Once this portion is complete, the administrator will take inventory of the assets including real property, business assets, stocks, and bonds. Sometimes the court will appoint an appraiser to assess the value of the property accurately. Each step is essential if the family intends to not lose money on the probate property during the process.
All Creditors Debts And Taxes Are Paid Out From The Estate.
The administrator will at this point have a clear understanding of the value of the assets and the amount to be expensed to creditors. This is an important step to understand because all the creditors receive payment before the heirs and descendants. This expense column will also include all the maintenance required for the real property during the legal process. A clearly defined will can even give authorization to the administrator to sell the property to cover the financial and debt obligations incurred. The process can take many days to resolve.
The Final Stage Is Transferring The Title Of The Property.
Once the necessary time frame for creditors to file claims is exhausted, the court will be petitioned to transfer the remaining assets to the beneficiaries as directed in the will. It should be a straightforward process with a well-drafted will. For example, if the last will is current and well updated, It should clearly express the intent of the deceased. All the actionable steps should be laid out in a way that’s easy to follow. If the will requests the creation of a trust, it can also prolong the process ultimately costing the family more money. If however, there is no will, the steps will take quite a bit longer as they need to go through the state intestate succession laws.
To conclude, the court will issue a notice to family members and creditors of the upcoming probate hearing. The court will choose an executor to handle the legal aspects on behalf of the Court. They will issue a mandated time limit for creditors to file claims against the estate. All the creditors obtain their collections and then the descendants will receive the remaining assets including the real estate.