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Probate Process: Several Considerations You Should Not Ignore

By: Jennifer D. Gray|LRL Writer

Probate WillProbate is a term you often hear whenever someone dies. It is a term that you sometimes hear but never bothers to research the meaning until you experience the lost of someone and you have to deal with the probate process. Knowing the full details of the process is essential. It may seem difficult at first but understanding it better will get you through it in a breeze. Just make sure you ask someone to assist you or you hire a professional so you can better understand some of the technical terms.

What is probate in the first place?

With all the complex process involve in the probate process, expect it to be lengthy. If you want everything to go as smoothly as possible, you must hire a probate attorney to help you out.

There should be an executor or a personal representative of the deceased to lead the probate process. He or she must, in turn, hire a probate attorney to assist with the case. The attorney will be the one to file for a Petition for Probate of Will and Appointment of Executor. This petition should be filed to the Probate Division of the county court where the deceased lived prior to death.

The court will set a date when the executor will be formally appointed as designated in the last will and testament. This will be recorded by the county probate clerk. As soon as the Will is admitted to probate, it now then becomes a public record. This means that anyone can view the Will from then on. In some of the states, it is even required to publish the Will in newspapers.

For the executor to conduct the Will, the Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration should first be issued by the court. After that, the executor will have to get a list of the full inventory of the deceased assets and debts. Assets include monies that are still owed to the deceased, retirement account, the final paycheck and life insurance policies. After taking into account all assets, it will then be used to pay off all the outstanding debts of the estate.

When all the debts are paid, the remaining assets can now be distributed to the heirs as directed by the Will. Note that all concerned real estate properties can only be sold or the title can only be transferred under the name of the heir after the waiting period as specified by the state probate law.

The law requires the executor to file a final accounting data to the clerk of the probate court. Some states require the executor to place an ad again on the local newspaper informing the public that the estate will now be closed before the court fully declares the finalization of the probate process.

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