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What is the probate process?

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Estate Planning

Probate is the legal process through which people distribute a deceased person’s assets among heirs. It is an important procedure that involves multiple steps.

This process ensures a fair distribution of the dead person’s estate, and learning about the steps can help someone during this time.

Filing a petition

Probate begins with the filing of a petition in the probate court. This document formally asks the court to open the probate case. If the deceased left a will, the court will determine its validity.

Alerting the executor

Once the court validates the will, the next step is alerting the executor. This individual has to manage the deceased person’s affairs, including gathering and inventorying assets, paying debts and giving away the remaining assets to heirs and beneficiaries.

Notifying creditors and settling debts

One important aspect of probate is addressing the debts of the deceased. During the process, the executor must notify creditors and settle any valid claims against the estate.

Distributing assets to heirs

After settling debts, executors distribute a dead person’s assets to beneficiaries according to the terms outlined in the will or, in the absence of a will, based on state laws. The median net worth for American families in 2019 was $121,760, meaning there could be a significant amount of money or assets to distribute. A court supervises this process to guarantee everything is fair.

Closing the probate case

The final step involves closing the probate case. Once they settle the debts and distribute all assets, the executor submits a final report to the court. After reviewing the report, the court issues an order to close the probate case, officially concluding the process.

Probate may seem confusing at first, but in reality, it is rather straightforward. By understanding all the steps involved, individuals can navigate the probate process with clarity and peace.