Your loved one has died leaving a will and a significant estate. You know you’ll have to take the will through the probate process, but you have no idea exactly what that entails. Here’s an overview.
The Steps in the Probate Process
The first step in the probate process is to have the probate court name an executor/personal representative. This is the person who will be the estate’s liaison with the court and will ensure that all provisions of the will are honored. The executor is typically identified in the will and, unless that person is unwilling or unable to serve, the court will generally name that person to handle those duties.
If there is a will, you must demonstrate to the court that it is valid. That can typically be done one of three ways—
- A sworn statement by someone who witnessed the signing of the will
- Sworn testimony in court from a witness
- A notarized statement, signed by witnesses when they observed the execution of the will
Once an executor has been named and the will has been validated, the executor will conduct an “accounting” of the estate, compiling a record of all property and debts of the estate. The executor will also provide notice to all interested parties, including creditors and potential beneficiaries. If necessary, the executor will also obtain property appraisals.
Once all debts and assets have been identified, the executor will ensure that the debts are paid and any tax filings are completed. The executor will then seek to distribute the property in accordance with the terms of the will, ensuring that all necessary legal measures are taken to transfer title or ownership.
Contact Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie, Seelaus & Kraft LLP
At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie, Seelaus & Kraft LLP, we have fought for the rights of individuals throughout Delaware County since 1980. We offer a free initial consultation. To schedule an appointment, call us at 610-565-4055 or 302-594-4535 or contact us online.