What Is Happening With That Probate Case?
After a loved one passes away, probate must be attended to. The deceased's last will and testament are filed in probate court and the court processes the estate. To find out what could be happening with your loved one's probate case, read on.
The Will is Filed
Every state has rules about the time allowed to file the will in the county probate court. Since probate can take months to complete, locating the will and speaking to a probate lawyer should be a priority for the family.
You can use any probate lawyer you like, even if they did not help with making the will. Any beneficiaries are informed by mail once the court has accepted the filing of the will. A notice may be published in a local newspaper about the probate action. That way, anyone believing that the estate owes them money can seek payment through probate court.
The Will is Authenticated
The signature from the deceased is examined for authenticity. This process is usually quick and uneventful unless someone comes forward claiming that the will is not the true last will and testament of the deceased. If a more recent version of the will is presented, the court must decide which will is the valid will. In some cases, the witnesses to the signing of the will are called upon to testify as to the will's validity.
The Personal Representative is Appointed
Personal representatives, or executors, may be appointed by the court. The personal representative is responsible for performing several tasks during probate and is usually named in the will. However, the probate court can also appoint a personal representative. Once appointed, the personal representative is presented with testamentary letters detailing their duties and responsibilities to the estate.
The Personal Representative Performs an Estate Inventory
Before the court makes more moves, the estate must be inventoried. The personal representative will make a list of all estate assets. In most cases, a professional appraisal must be performed of all real estate assets. Estate assets include vehicles, homes, bank accounts, precious metals, and more.
The Personal Representative Pays the Debts
The personal representative works with the probate lawyer to pay certain debts of the estate as ordered by the probate court. Not all debts should be paid, however. Tax debts are a priority payment along with bills that support estate property like mortgages and utilities. Nothing should be paid without the probate lawyer's go-ahead.
The Personal Representative Distributes the Estate
Once the probate court has determined that all creditors are satisfied, the assets of the estate may be distributed to the beneficiaries. Real estate deeds and vehicle titles should be updated using copies of the death certificate.
To find out more about the probate process, speak to a probate law attorney in your area.