Whenever one of our family members dies, it is one of the most challenging time of our life. During this time, we go through a lot of emotions and hardships, which is why it becomes tough to think straight and make proper decisions. We need to plan the funeral, work out the Will, and to distribute assets in a short amount of time. Therefore, it is essential to stay calm and composed during a probate process. If you need any help or guidance, you can always hire a probate lawyer. In this article, we will look at the five necessary steps in a probate process.
Probate is the legal process of transferring assets to the decedents as per the Will or testament of the deceased. Typically, a lawyer can guide you thoroughly during the whole process. Probate includes other factors like locating and estimating the value of all the assets of the deceased. The executor should also pay the debts and taxes, and finally distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
Step 1: Locate The Will And Present It In The Probate Court
During the probate process, the first step is to locate the Will and submit it in the court. If you are the executor of the will, you will be responsible for the probate process. If you do not know what happens in an estate case, it would be best to consult with a probate lawyer. Most of the cases do not go as smoothly as desired. As an executor of a Will, you will face a lot of obstacles in your way.
Step 2: Send Legal Notice To Beneficiaries And Lenders
In the second step, you need to notify all the parties that can be involved in the estate. According to the probate court, the executor has to send a formal notice to all the beneficiaries. They should also send a notification to lenders that have a claim to the deceased estate. The easiest option is to publish the announcement in a newspaper. Therefore, this is a means to notify the creditors and legal heirs not known to the executor.
Step 3: Inventory All the Assets And Liabilities Of The Probate Case
The third step in a probate process is to locate and inventory all the assets that are in the deceased Will. The assets could include bank accounts, real estate properties, retirement accounts, and vehicles. The list can be vast.
Once you locate and secure all the assets, you also need to evaluate these assets. This step is significant as it will determine the total value of the estate. The value of the estate will also determine how you can divide and share with the beneficiaries.
Along with the assets, the executor of the Will should also collect all the claims made by the creditors. The executor has to give notice according to local state laws dictate, to all the known creditors of the deceased. Furthermore, the time limit for creditors to approach the court is different from state to state. The executor should also make sure that the claims of the creditors are valid and correct.
Step 4: Pay Off All The Liabilities, Taxes, And Funeral Expenses
In the next step, the executor has to make sure that all the creditors’ claims are valid and legitimate. Then, using the estate, they will have to pay off all the debts of the deceased. If required, the executor may move to sell assets to cover funeral expenses and debts. Along with the liabilities, the executor should also pay all the taxes that apply to the estate.
Once all the liabilities, taxes, and funeral expenses are taken care off, the remaining assets need to be distributed to the rightful heirs. A good probate lawyer can help create an estate plan that sets aside estimated taxes to simplify the process.
Step 5: Close The Probate Case By Transferring The Assets To The Beneficiaries
In the last step, the executor handles transferring all the remaining assets to the beneficiaries mentioned in the Will. In case there is no will, the intestacy laws will take into effect. Once the requisite waiting period specified by the court is over, you can disburse the assets. Then the executor files a petition in the probate court to transfer the remaining estate to its beneficiaries. The personal representative helps to do new deeds for property transfers. They can liquidate assets if necessary, to transfer the money to the rightful heirs. Once every process is completed, it is time to close the case.