The property of the deceased person should be transferred legally to his/her living beneficiary. This is the process called probate. The process also includes settling the debts of the deceased. The process will be under the supervision of a probate court where Barr and Young Attorneys with probate attorneys will handle it.
It is important that you know the process so you will be aware of the proceedings. The probate court has certain laws and rules that must be observed. The laws and rules may vary depending on the territory but the probate process is the same. Here’s a look at the probate process:
Determine if the deceased left a will
To get started, you have to be certain first if the deceased left a will. The first thing to do is to look into his papers. If you do not see any will, check with his attorneys because he might have drawn up something. You can also check his safety deposit box in an effort to locate the will. However, you may need to get the permission of the probate court judge to access the box. In the event that the deceased did not leave a will or did not make his final wishes known, the estates will be called “intestate”.
Take the will to the court
Taking the will to the court is called opening the estate. This process is simple because you just need to bring the will to the court and find the clerk to file it. There will be an executor or administrator named by the will. He will usually take care of the task of opening the estate to the court. After the filing, the court will schedule a hearing. This is to formally appoint him as the estate’s executor. The court will give him a document called letters testamentary. This document will give the executor legal authority over the estate.
If there are no wills or if it is intestate, any family member can open the estate. However, this does not mean that the family member will be automatically appointed to be the executor. The court will determine the legal executor based on the state law. In the case of the husband or wife’s death, the surviving spouse will be considered the executor followed by adult children then parents and siblings.
Inventory of the assets
The first job of an executor after receiving the letters testamentary is to identify the assets of the deceased. This process involves a comprehensive review of the deceased bank accounts, stock certificates, bond certificates, deeds, car titles and many more. The executor will take care of the paperwork starting from the income tax returns of the deceased for the last 3 years. The executor should also pay income taxes and estate taxes. After the taxes, the executor should take care of the final bill of the deceased including the legal fees, utilities, mortgage payments, insurance and many more.
Distribute the balance
As soon as things are settled, the executor can now distribute the balance of the estate funds to the estate beneficiaries. The distribution of “inheritance” will be the last step.