What is Probate?
Probate is a type of legal process used to distribute a deceased person’s estate and property to his or her heirs and designated beneficiaries. Any unpaid debt to creditors may also be paid off.
In most cases, a deceased person’s estate is distributed according to his or her will and testament (if applicable) or according to state law if there is none. During the probate process, the cost of the probate proceeding is typically paid first, then any outstanding debts may be paid and finally the beneficiaries may receive their share.
The Probate Process
The probate process typically involves five steps including:
- Proving a deceased individual’s will is lawful and valid to the court
- Finding and inventorying all of the deceased person’s assets and property
- Appraising all assets and property
- Paying any applicable debts, taxes and probate fees
- Distributing the remaining property and assets to the beneficiaries according to the will (if it exists) or state law
How Does the Probate Process Begin?
The probate process may start after a creditor or beneficiary files a Petition for Administration with the probate court. This document is typically filed in the county where the deceased individual resided at the time of his or her death.
After a probate petition or application is filed, a notice may be published in the local newspaper. In addition, notices may be mailed to all known creditors, beneficiaries or heirs as required by the court.
The assets and property may then be collected and inventoried to be appraised for a date of death value. After values have been established, any outstanding bills, taxes, estate expenses and creditors of the deceased may be paid.
Probate claims are often paid in the following order:
1. Cost of the probate proceeding
2. Funeral expenses
3. Outstanding taxes and debts
4. All other claims
Professional Probate Help
Dealing with the probate process can be very emotionally stressful and difficult. For professional help with probate, contact a probate attorney with the People’s Choice Law Group today. We offer free case evaluations to determine how we may help you with your probate needs.