Steps to Completing the Probate Process

Steps to Completing the Probate Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

The probate process is a lengthy and complicated one. It can take months to complete, and it requires a lot of time from the executor or administrator. If you are going through the probate process in your state, there are some steps that you will need to go through before we get started with anything else.
Steps to Completing the Probate Process

What is Probate?

The probate process is the legal process in which a deceased person’s assets are gathered and distributed to their heirs or other beneficiaries. It officially confirms that this person had died, identifies who they were legally closest with when they passed away (either an executor or an administrator), names someone else to carry out the duties of distributing property for them, takes inventory of all assets possessed by the decedent, pays any outstanding debts owed by them and divides up what remains among those entitled to inherit from them according to law.

people don't always have wills

Probate can be necessary because people don’t always have wills.

Often, the process is just a formality to confirm that someone has died. Their estate funds can be administered without probate court proceedings because they have adequately left organized plans for distributing property.

Sometimes it’s necessary to go through the steps in full or partially when there are disagreements among family members about who should inherit what from them and how to divide up any money or other assets belonging to them while confirming (or not) some of their wishes.

The Cost of Applying for Probate

It costs money to file for and go through the probate1 proceedings, ranging from $500 to more than $20,000 depending on things like how complicated the case might be and whether there are any disagreements among family members who need to be dealt with.

This includes legal fees, taxes (such as inheritance tax), costs associated with appraisals or inventories, verification services such as death certificates or public notices in newspapers announcing the date when a will has been admitted for proof that someone died. These various additional charges may also apply: funeral expenses if they weren’t prepaid; attorney’s fees if you hire an attorney to help with your case; and costs for public notice in a newspaper if you need one.

The Variable Fees of Probate

The Variable Fees of Probate

The variable fees of Probate depend on the size and complexity of a person’s estate and how long it takes to complete all the necessary tasks. The larger the estate and the more complex it is, generally speaking, the higher these variable fees are likely to be.

A list of some ordinary expenses that will vary in cost based on your case:

  • Funeral costs if you don’t preplan them ahead of time;
  • Legal fees for an attorney hired by you or appointed by court order;
  • The costs associated with appraisals and inventories (such as obtaining death certificates);
  • Public notice charges (if applicable) when publishing wills admitted to Probate;
  • Judicial fees (for a court in which the will has been filed for Probate);
  • Surveying charges if there is real property involved.

A person’s estate typically includes personal and real property and intangible assets such as stocks and bonds. Probate refers to a process that identifies all of these properties, determines who inherits them under law, then collects and distributes them according to each individual’s wishes or instructions in their last will. The process can take months depending on how complicated an estate may be–and it often involves many different people with various responsibilities, including those mentioned above.” The variable fees of Probate depending on the size and complexity of a person’s estate, the value of any real estate involved, and the location.

The Actual Cost of Probate

The actual cost of Probate varies depending on the complexity of a person’s estate, the real property involved and location.

The variable fees of probation depend primarily on the size and complexity of an individual’s estate and any real property it involves. The process can take months to complete–and often entails many people with various responsibilities, including those mentioned above. In addition to costs for investigating assets, paying attorneys’ fees (typically 40 hours at $225 per hour), court filing or publishing fees ($12-$15 each) and other administrative expenses like copying documents– there is also a publication cost that varies by county but averages about $150 in most areas or states.”

A typical probate case without a will may average around $1400 in legal services alone, while one with a choice may average closer to $1000.

You Can Be Helped with the Probate Process

You Can Be Helped with the Probate Process

If you need assistance with the probate process, there is a wide range of professionals who can help. There are trust counsellors who help during the probate process and attorneys who can advise you on preparing a will or estate plan.

Solicitors Fees

The solicitor fees2 associated with Probate can be high, mainly if the estate is complex.

Suppose you have a will or other document establishing an executor’s authority and specifying how property should be divided among beneficiaries after death. In that case, there may not be much for your attorney to do in connection with Probate.

Bank Fees for Probate

There are bank fees for Probate. One of the first things you connect with a will is to name an executor, who will be required to open and maintain a new account at the estate’s leading bank after death.

Probate Specialists Fees

The solicitor fees associated with Probate can be high, mainly if the estate is complex.

Suppose you have a will or other document establishing an executor’s authority and specifying how property should be divided among beneficiaries after death. In that case, there may not be much for your attorney to do in connection with Probate.

How Long Does Probate Take?

The process of Probate can be relatively quick. It typically takes about three to six months for an estate with straightforward assets and minimal debts, but it may take much longer in more complex cases.

Probating a will is the first step whenever someone dies without having made arrangements beforehand. The executor or administrator must file copies of the death certificate and other relevant documents at court and send out “probate notices” to all known beneficiaries (who are likely also named on the will). Anyone who objects has 20 days from receipt of the notice to file a petition for “probate relief.” If they don’t, then Probate is granted by default.

The next step in the process is determining whether an account (such as a 401k or brokerage) has named beneficiaries who are not on the will. The executor must contact such statements and ask them if they want to take ownership of those funds; otherwise, he can distribute them according to instructions from the deceased’s will. The contents of checking and savings accounts at banks may also be distributed this way. Still, it takes longer because there are often numerous claimants with small balances that need contacting individually.

What Happens in Cases where there is a Contentious Probate

What Happens in Cases where there is a Contentious Probate

Under probate law, a person who contests the will’s validity is called an “interested party.” An interested party can bring forth evidence that any of the following:

  • The deceased was not competent to sign a will where mental incompetence or disability (either temporary or permanent) impairs his ability to understand what he signed and how it affects him.
  • There are errors in the formalities of signing the will, meaning, for example, if someone other than one spouse witnessed their signature.
  • The document does not meet requirements set by state law and evidenced by fraud, duress, undue influence and so on. This type of evidence can be used to invalidate the will.

If an interested party contests probate, they must file their objection and evidence in court within 90 days of when the executor has been appointed or 180 if there are no executors but does not have to wait until after all appeals for any objections raised by other parties have concluded. The challenge would then be heard before a judge decides whether it is valid and binding on everyone who is affected by it. The judge can grant the request in whole or overturn a will if they find a fraud, duress, undue influence or other grounds to invalidate it.

Suppose you do not have an executor appointed before someone dies. In that case, Probate may be avoided altogether, and all of their assets would automatically pass to the beneficiaries as specified in the will. However, this means any debts which cannot be paid from those assets must remain unpaid for creditors to pursue through civil action against whoever has taken on responsibility for them instead – usually family members who are next in line, otherwise known as personal representatives under “intestate succession”.

When is Probate Required?

A person’s death does not always necessitate opening a probate case, as their assets may pass according to what they left in their will or by “intestate succession”.

In this instance, no formal petition for an estate administration would be necessary. Any debts owed can be settled through civil lawsuits against family members or personal representatives who have taken on responsibility for them instead – those are usually next in line known as heirs under intestacy law. However, it might depend on where your property is located and how that country handles these cases if you live abroad. Please consult with local counsel before making any assumptions about this situation.

If an estate administration is necessary, then it will be handled in one of two ways. In some jurisdictions, this may only require a petition to open Probate and the appointment of an executor or personal representative who handles all matters related to assets distribution according to what was stipulated by law – not always with input from those involved but certainly if they disagree there can be legal challenges which would necessitate court intervention.

Others handle these cases through judicial proceedings whereby a judge hears arguments for either opening Probate (if no previous petitions were filed), appointing a special administrator to determine heirs, distributing property as stipulated within the will under equity rules rather than intestacy laws, issuing bonds against the estate, or other matters.

The Steps to the Probate Process

The Steps to the Probate Process

Step One: The executor or personal representative must file a petition for Probate with the appropriate court. Some jurisdictions have simplified forms that can be used instead of this requirement, and others will require more detailed paperwork than just naming beneficiaries to inherit property.

Step Two: A judge reviews the submitted documents and issues an order either granting or denying the request for Probate according to state law, including specifications about what types of assets are subject to distribution (such as life insurance policies). If granted, then the next step is filing a notice with creditors who have claims against the estate, noting how they should submit their requests within a specific time frame before distribution occurs.

Step Three: Once the judge has approved the request for Probate, notice is published in a local newspaper to notify creditors and other interested parties of the estate distribution process.

Step Four: The executor oversees all aspects of the estate settlement process, including identifying assets belonging to the deceased person (often these are bank accounts or stocks) and transferring them into their name as beneficiary. They also oversee payments to any beneficiaries specified under will provisions, handling claims from creditors who have submitted requests before distribution occurs, paying off debts incurred by the decedent that may be included in an amount owed clause found within their will provision(s).

Both Step Three and Five require filing paperwork with state agencies like taxes and social security.

Step Six: The executor is required to file a final tax return for the deceased with IRS and states, if applicable

Step Seven: After everything has been settled according to law, the executor must submit their written account of all transactions by filing an inventory with county authorities. They then distribute any remaining assets following provisions or as indicated on legal documents filed during probate proceedings.

File a Petition

File a Petition

The first step to completing the probate process is filing a petition for Probate with your county’s court. This can be done by submitting an application packet or through online services like LegalZoom.

You will have to pay all taxes owed and fees before you are granted permission from the court to collect any assets belonging to the deceased relative, so make sure that this is taken care of in advance.

Next, contact creditors of the decedent about possible debts still outstanding as well as potential beneficiaries listed in their will provision(s), even if they’re not in the same state.

The petitioner must provide notice to all interested parties of their intentions and give them a copy of the petition, as well as any other legal documents filed during probate proceedings, such as reports or notices. This is done by publishing newspaper articles and sending out copies via certified mail or personal delivery for recipients who are not residents of your county. You must maintain accurate records throughout this process, so make sure to document every letter sent, address contacted, and phone call made.

Provide a Notice

The court will schedule a hearing date with the petitioner to allow interested parties and creditors to object.

If there are no objections, then the judge may grant what’s known as Letters Testamentary or Administration (depending on the jurisdiction), which permits you to dispose of assets following your loved one’s wishes. The executor typically has six months from that point until they’re required to file a final accounting report detailing where all money went and how it was spent. If there are any outstanding debts, those must be paid off before distributing property among beneficiaries listed in their will provisions.

Inventory Assets

Executors are required to inventory the assets of their loved ones. This includes all property, real estate, investments and equity in business entities.

The executor will need to find a safe place for these things while they’re on hand because at some point, you’ll be distributing them among your beneficiaries or selling everything off – so it’s essential not only to account for what is there but also where it should go.

Take Care of Bills and Debts

If the deceased were in debt, it would be up to you as executor to pay those debts. Suppose they had outstanding bills, such as utilities or mortgage payments. In that case, we suggest handling these before distributing their assets among beneficiaries because otherwise, that person may get nothing at all due to unpaid bills.

Distribute the Remaining Assets

Whether it’s cash, stocks and bonds or other assets such as a house, you’ll need to work with your attorney to decide how they should be distributed.

It is essential that an executor distributes the estate according to state rules and makes decisions on behalf of beneficiaries who may not have been consulted about their inheritance. The most common issue we see in probate cases related to this are people contesting wills because they were “cut out”.

This means that the executor is not distributing assets per the will and contesting them in probate court. In this case, we recommend consulting a trusts and estates attorney to get help with contested wills.

Close the State

Once you have distributed the assets to your beneficiaries, it’s time for the executor to close the estate. This includes filing a final account and discharge and transferring any remaining property into trusts or other entities that will distribute them according to their terms.

Common questions

How do I know if my estate requires Probate?

How do I start the probate process?

What should I expect at each stage during the probate process?

Who can help with completing the probate process if I don't have an attorney?

In conclusion

To summarize, the probate process is a long and complicated one. It’s essential to have an attorney or executor who can help you manage it as best they can for your case. We want to be that team of experts for you! Contact us today to learn more about what makes your situation unique and how our services might benefit you in completing this long but rewarding journey through the probate process.

How Much Can You Release?

Use the FREE Calculator Below

Equity Release Calculator

Value Of Your Home?

(Drag the Slider)

0

We Hate Spam as Much as You. 100% Secure.

How Much Can You Release?

Most people are using Equity Release as a means of retaining the use of their house while also obtaining a lump sum or a steady stream of income. Get matched with an expert and check your eligibility for equity release options.
Use our free equity release calculator & see how much you can release today.

Your Journey to Financial Success Starts Here