Probate, or the official proving of a will, is a process in which an attorney and the family of the deceased establish the validity of the will left by a deceased person. There are many steps to the process, but there are a few things that anyone going through this should know.
The First Step Is Finding the Will
If you don't know where a person's will is, this can be a long process. There are several places to look. First, if the person had an attorney, ask the attorney if there is a copy that you can access. If the person had a bank and safe, it may be worth looking in the home for a key or talking to the bankers about your loved one's passing. The person who has been appointed as the administrator of the estate will likely have to approach banks or attorneys about accessing the will, as no one else has the authority.
Next, Find Titles to Property
It's very important to secure the decedent's property by obtaining the title. The property itself can't be sold until the executor of the estate has been approved by the probate court.
Obtain the Death Certificate for Court
Next, obtain the person's death certificate, which is used to prove that he or she passed away. It allows you to start the process of administering the estate if you are the appointed executor. This is actually a formalized process, so having the death certificate, will, titles, and other paperwork is important. An inventory of the person's possessions should also be obtained and taken to the attorney, since this will need to be broken down according to the will.
Petition for Probate
The final step you need to take is to petition for probate. This petition is filed in the probate court and usually happens within a few days or weeks of a person's passing. A hearing for probate will be held within 45 days in most cases. Why does it take so long? It's time for others who may want to attend to get time off work and to find out about the hearing. Once the date is scheduled, all you have to do is appear with your attorney and the documents that the court requests. Once you're successful in court, you obtain the authority to transact the property and administer the estate as the will suggests.
These are a few things to understand about probate. It can be a long process, but it's necessary to finalized a decedent's estate. For more information and advice, contact a probate lawyer like David R Webb Attorney.