After someone passes away, the last will and testament must go through the probate process to distribute the decedent’s estate to all beneficiaries. If the decedent does not have a will, the estate will still have to go through probate, though the process may be more complicated without a list of beneficiaries.
Understanding the Probate Process
The first step in probate begins with a request to name a personal representative or an executor. If your loved one did not create a will, you may be able to ask the court to be the administrator. Generally, to request to be an administrator, you will need a death certificate, an application, and the original will.
Next, a probate hearing will be scheduled to give all the interested parties the opportunity to object to your request to be the executor of the will. Oftentimes, this is a formality, and the request is approved. That said, every situation is different and it is possible to encounter some obstacles at this stage. Additionally, the probate court may even request that you post a bond to protect the estate.
If your loved one had a will, you will also have to prove its validity. There are a few ways in which a will can be proved valid, including a court testimony from a witness, a notarized statement the witnesses signed when they witnessed the will, or a sworn statement signed by a witness.
Moreover, when people pass away, it is not unusual for them to have debts. While the probate process is in progress, creditors are given a chance to come forward and you can settle any outstanding debts. If you are the executor of the will, you will also be responsible for filing tax returns for the decedent and making sure tax bills are paid on time. This is an important part of the probate process because you cannot give the decedent’s beneficiaries their inheritance until the estate’s debts are settled.
Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today!
At Drexler Law, our estate planning and probate team can help you navigate the probate process if your loved one recently passed away. You can rely on our knowledgeable advice and guidance to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
Reach out to our law office today at (719) 259-0050 to request a case evaluation with a member of our team to learn more about what we can do for you.