Probate: A Step-By-Step Breakdown
Probate is a legal term that refers to the process of transferring and distributing a deceased individual’s estate as well as handling creditors that may have claim to some of it. Depending on the situation, it can either be a smooth experience, or a long, drawn-out, complicated one. As an executor of an estate, or even just a beneficiary, it’s important to be knowledgeable of the basics of the probate procedure.
Step 1: Announcement of Passing
A public statement announcing the passing of the deceased individual must be made and disseminated. Typically, this is done through the obituary sections of newspapers servicing the area. The reason the law requires an announcement is to alert any potential creditors as well as beneficiaries to the deceased person’s passing.
Step 2: Appraisal of Assets
The probate court will choose the estate administrator who is tasked with inventorying the assets. They will be broken down into two categories: personal property and real property. The former includes assets like bank accounts and investments, while the latter includes physical property, such as houses or land plots. In regards to estates that include property like a house, the administrator will generally hire a professional appraiser for accuracy’s sake. Once a value is assigned to the assets, it must be checked against what is owed; things like loans and life insurance policies are taken into account.
Step 3: Dealing With Creditors
Sometimes, the estate will have creditors. It is the executor’s job to handle them. Creditors could stem from bills that are outstanding, restitution, and even probate lawyers. If a creditor goes unpaid, he or she has the right to file suit against the estate and sue for what he or she is owed.
Step 4: Asset Distribution
The distribution process begins once the estate has been appraised and when what was owed is paid off. The executor of the estate is then required to distribute any assets that remain to the beneficiaries. Not everyone has made a will that dictates how the distribution should go. In situations like this, the court will decide based on your state’s laws.
Then, the estate’s administrator must file a final settlement with the probate court, detailing all of his or her actions concerning the estate. Once approved by a judge, the probate process is complete.
Dealing with probate matters can be challenging, and each case is different. The Slaughter Law Firm is always happy to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.