If you’re the executor of an estate, you might have heard that you should avoid probate at all costs. Of course, you might not understand what probate means. It’s the court-supervised process for distributing an estate’s assets according to the exact specifications of the will in question.
The goal of any probate judge is to protect the heirs. However, probate does have its drawbacks, among them that every aspect of the will becomes a matter of public record, subject to public scrutiny
There are many tasks that must be completed as part of the probate process. In the case that a will has been declared invalid, or no executor has been named, the court will select a personal representative–usually a family member of the deceased–as an estate administrator. They might also order a search of the premises of the deceased, including their safe deposit box, to determine that no will exists. Next, the estate administrator must complete the following:
1. Take Inventory of the Belongings of the Deceased
A thorough documenting of all of the deceased’s earthly possessions must be taken. All probate and non-probate assets will be recorded, and records should be kept of the value of these objects.
2. Keep in mind that costs must be minimized
An estate administrator needs to ensure that the estate is dispersed without incurring large expenses.
3. Determine the correct proceedings for the jurisdiction
Assets might be spread across the US. The estate administrator must determine the proper way to distribute these assets according to state law.
4. Make public announcements to creditors in local newspapers
Creditors must be made aware of any deadlines as it pertains to collecting from the estate.
5. Pay Debts
The estate administrator must pay debts out of the estate’s assets.
6. Pay Taxes
Proper tax returns must be filed and correct payments must be made.
7. Distribute Allowances
During probate, spouses and minor children may receive allowances from the estate as dictated by state law.
8. Disburse Assets
Only after the above is completed my assets be distributed.
9. Close the Estate
The exact closing procedures for any estate depend on state law. It may be done informally, through a newspaper announcement, or a formal court proceeding.
As an estate administrator, closing an estate can be a complex task, and it can always help to contact a formal estate attorney. They can guide you through the correct steps to help you avoid an expensive and lengthy probate process.