While the term seems scary, probate is a relatively simple concept: it’s a legal procedure that transfers assets from the deceased to their heirs or beneficiaries.
The loss of a loved one can be a challenging time. The grieving process is often quickly followed with questions about what to do with the decedent’s estate and how their personal possessions and other property should be distributed. The process of probating the estate and filing the proper paperwork with the court can be overwhelming and intimidating. If the decedent died without a will, the individual(s) who qualifies as administrator of the estate must follow the intestate laws of the decedent’s state of residence, adding another layer of complexity to an already stressful situation. Terry Frank Law can assist in guiding you through the estate administration process by facilitating the preparation of probate forms, navigating the ins and outs of the estate administration process and making certain the estate is handled in accordance with the decedent’s wishes and with the law.
Basics of the Probate Process
- First, a person passes away.
- Next, the deceased person’s loved one must search for the deceased person’s last will and testament (if one exists).
- The person named in the will, or an interested person if there is no will, must complete the appropriate paperwork and submit it and the will to the probate court.
- The court appoint an executor (also called a personal representative) to wind up the deceased person’s affairs. The executor may be required to post a bond.
- The executor secures all valuables, collects the mail, creates a list of everything the deceased person owned, and files it with the court, sending copies to the interested parties.
- The executor pays the deceased person’s bills, files tax returns, pays for the costs of probate, and distributes what is left to family (if no will) or named beneficiaries (if there is a will).
- Lastly, the executor submits paperwork to the court to close the administration.
If you’ve been appointed an executor of a loved one’s estate, or a successor trustee, and that person dies, your grief – not to mention your to-do list, including tasks ranging from planning the funeral, coordinating relatives coming in from out of town and (eventually) meeting with a trust administration or probate lawyer – can be quite overwhelming. First and foremost, take care of yourself during this emotional time.
A spouse’s death creates a difficult and demanding time for the surviving partner. As much as you might want space and time alone to process your grief, you may have certain responsibilities related to settling your deceased spouse’s affairs, including paying off their debt.