Once someone is dead, you want to ensure that their property is well shared. In many cases, the court must gather the diseased person assets and distribute them to the inheritors. The whole process where the court is involved in the assessment of the assets is called probate. Unless there’s fighting among the concerned parties, the probate is often a straightforward process that requires little court supervision. Although the probate process differs from state to state, you must understand what inheritance advance is all about. Here is a roadmap of stages involved during probate.
Step 1: Request Appointment as Personal Representative
The first step towards getting your probate done is to report to the court and ask them to name you as the executor. However, if you want to process probate without a Will, in that case you will need to be the administrator.
Before this request is made, you want to make sure you have your application filed, avail all the original copies of the death certificate and the Will. You will then be issued with a document that contains essential information like the date of death, details of the beneficiaries, name of the family members and many more.
However, this step varies slightly since every probate Court may not have the same rules about the documents they require.
Step 2: Prepare For the First Probate Hearing
Once you successfully register for probate, the court will then schedule the first hearing. But before that, it is your mandate to notify all the legal beneficiaries mentioned in the Will. Don’t forget the creditors as well.
Furthermore, you have to make an extra step and publish a legal notice to inform others after taking note of the day of the first hearing. During the first probate hearing, all parties will have an opportunity to object to you as an executor.
Once your request for becoming a prosecutor is approved, you will get a Letter of Authority or just a Letter in situations where there is no Will left by the deceased. In either case, this is a document that mandates you to represent the estate.
Step 3: Post a Bond to Insure the Estate
At this stage, you need to post some amount of money in terms of the insurance. The bond is meant to protect them from losses you might have caused. However, this may not be the case where the will especially state that no bond needed. But again, it will depend on the judge’s decision and the beneficiary’s agreement. However, some court will insist, especially if the executor is not a resident of the estate in question. In either case, if the court agrees that the bond is necessary, then the amount you will give is determined by the size of the estate.
Step 4: Provide Will’s Validity
If the deceased left behind a will you must strive to prove its validity to the parties involved. You must have a statement from the witness written in either of the following forms. A notorised statement must bear the witness’s signature to confirm that they were present when the Will was being written. Secondly, a sworn statement confirmed by the wines or court confirms testimony from a witness.
Step 5: Clear All The Pending Debts And Taxes
As you wait for the probate case to start, you can proceed with the debts’ clearance. Gather all the necessary assets and make sure you have an active bank account in the estate’s name. Use this account to clear with all creditors. The probate case should be left open for about six months to allow creditors to come forward. You will need to provide a copy of the diseased assets to the court to get assets appraised. Being an executor, you are also responsible for paying all the taxes and file returns on time.
Step 6: Giving Properties to Beneficiaries
In most cases, you can only give beneficiaries their inheritances once you are sure the estate has adequate assets to clear any pending debt and taxes. However, it is necessary to start distributing some assets before the end of the probate process. When you note that the estate had plenty of money to pay the bill and the taxes, it would be wise to start distributing the assets to the beneficiaries early rather than later. Just remember that you are mandated to distribute the assets to beneficiaries fairly. Never favor any beneficiary as this could be a recipe for a fight
Step 7: Distribute Property and Close the Estate
Once every creditor is satisfied and all tax returns are filed, it would be your right to distribute all the remaining assets to the beneficiaries and close the process. Closing the estate can relieve you from your executor duties. At this point, you have to give a detailed account of your activities. The accounting helps the court to know if you cleared with all debtors. It also shows how you distributed the property and where.