5 Steps To Pursue Probate Administration
There are many things you need to deal with after the death of a loved one. Not only do you have to manage the feelings of loss and grief, but you might have to handle their unfinished affairs, too. This scenario particularly applies when there’s no will left to guide the management and distribution of their assets.
So, what are you going to do in case you found yourself in this scenario? The most appropriate thing to do is to be the estate’s administrator, which can be done through the probate administration process. It’s a guideline that may vary depending on the state, but generally speaking, here is how the probate process works.
- File for A Probate Petition
You might feel that you’re the person rightfully assigned to handle the estate of the deceased, but without a will or a court letter assigning you on that role, you have no right to conduct business affairs on the deceased’s assets.
To make it lawful, the first thing to do is to file a Petition to Probate. You can file this to the Probate Court of the country where the deceased lived at the time of their death. Depending on their law, this step would take about one to four months for accomplishment.
You can only act on behalf of the deceased once you receive a court letter allowing you to become the administrator of the estate.
- Notify All Interested Parties
Some say that the notification process should come before the filing of the petition, while others say that it should come after. Though there’s a conflicting perspective on when the notification of the probate should be given, what’s crucial is to let all interested parties know about it. These parties include the deceased’s beneficiaries and heirs, as well as their creditors. The notification should be published in the newspaper for a specified number of times or for a period depending on the state’s laws.
- Conduct an Inventory and Appraise of Assets
An important responsibility of a probate administrator is to create an inventory of the deceased’s estate. This includes stocks and bonds, mutual funds, bank accounts, and physical assets, such as lands, houses, boats, and other motor vehicles. It’s important to note, however, that not all properties of the deceased are subject to the probate process. Moreover, a probate administrator can hire the assistance of an appraiser to properly determine the value of these properties.
- Pay Bills, Expenses, and Taxes
Upon knowing the value of the estate, the next step is to pay the remaining bills and expenses left by the deceased. This can be accomplished after notified creditors filed their claims against the estate. Additionally, the administrator should make the payment of applicable taxes a priority.
It’s critical for this step to come first before the asset distribution is made. Some states have laws that impose personal liabilities to administrators in their failure to comply with this step.
- Close the Estate and Distribute the Assets
Once bills, expenses, and remaining taxes are settled, you can now file a petition to the court to close the process. The petition should account for the actions you’ve taken as an administrator. It generally includes all receipts, records, and paperwork as proof of your efforts. For some states, the costs of your payment and the hired probate attorney need to be included, too.
When the court finds everything satisfactory, the probate process will be ended. All remaining assets shall be finally distributed to the deceased’s beneficiaries and heirs.