Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Probate Checklist

There is a lot to do during probate. If you have heard that probate can take a long time, you heard right. The probate checklist is lengthy and every step is important and must be properly completed. So, what exactly needs to happen during probate? We will go over that in more detail here.

The Probate Checklist

The first step in probate is to validate a will, if there is one. If there is a will, it needs to be authenticated by the probate court before things can proceed any further. Once the will is found valid, the process can move forward. Often, the validated will has a provision naming a personal representative for the estate. If this is the case, the personal representative named in the will is appointed, if available and willing to serve. If there is no will, no personal representative provision in the will, or the named personal representative is unable or unwilling to serve, the probate court will have to find another personal representative to serve. Usually, the personal representative will be a family member of the deceased.

Once the personal representative is appointed, he or she will be granted letters of administration which authorizes the personal representative to take action on behalf of the estate. The personal representative plays an integral role in probate proceedings and is tasked with pretty much all of the probate checklist. The first order of business is to gather and inventory assets of the estate. The personal representative is responsible for managing the estate’s assets during probate proceedings as well.

The personal representative must put all beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries (those who would stand to inherit under the state’s intestacy laws) on notice of the probate proceedings. The personal representative is also tasked with putting all potential creditors of the estate on notice. The creditors are granted a time frame in which to assert a claim against the estate and the personal representative must determine which claims are valid. Once valid claims are determined, the personal representative must pay these valid claims from estate proceeds.

Furthermore, the personal representative is tasked with filing the final tax returns for the estate. He or she is also responsible for keeping the probate court apprised of estate dealings and must file a final inventory with the probate court before the assets of the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries. Once this is done, the personal representative can distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries as set forth in the validated will. If there is no legally valid will in place, the estate assets will pass according to the intestacy laws of the state. Intestacy laws generally will have estate assets distributed to the closest surviving family members. If there are no surviving family members, the assets of the estate pass, or “escheat,” to the state.

Estate Planning Attorneys

Does probate look like an involved and complicated process? It certainly can be. Get the legal help you need to get through it as seamlessly as possible. The dedicated estate planning team at Hyden, Miron & Foster. Contact us today.


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