One of the most difficult tasks left to loved ones and family members after a death is settling the estate of the deceased. This could mean cleaning out a house, paying final bills and making sure that assets go to the right places. For many estates, probate is a requirement as this is the process of validating a will and finalizing affairs in a court-supervised and organized manner. It may be helpful for you to learn about the probate process and what it could mean for your situation.
The task of settling the estate of a loved one is daunting, even if the decedent left behind a will with clear instructions regarding his or her estate. By knowing what to expect from probate, you may be in a better position to avoid problems and other complications. Probate can take a few months or even longer to complete, and you will want to have all the information necessary to complete this process as efficiently and quickly as possible.
Steps during probate
Even though every estate is unique, probate follows the same basic procedure. An important part of probate is the executor, which is the individual who will oversee each step. This person is either appointed by the decedent in his or her will, or it is an appointment made by the probate court. The executor is responsible for managing the property of the decedent and following the requirements of probate, which may include the following steps:
- File death certificate and will with the probate court
- Locate, value and safeguard estate assets
- Notify creditors and beneficiaries of the estate
- Prepare and file final tax returns
- Pay any remaining debts for the estate
- Distribute property according to the terms of the will
When there are disputes over the terms of the will, missing assets, missing beneficiaries and other complications, it can cause the probate process to take longer, cost more and bring more stress.
Assistance with the probate process
It is prudent to have assistance when navigating the probate process. This is not something you must navigate alone, but instead, you will find it helpful to have guidance at every step. Whether you are the executor of the estate or simply want to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are honored, you can seek insight regarding your rights and legal options.