Understanding Probate

Probate is the process where the court validates the will of the deceased (testate), or establishes that the deceased died without a will (intestate).  The court is also responsible for appointing an individual to handle the assets and obligations of the decedent.  This individual can be known as an Executor if named in the will or an Administrator if no will exists.  Under infrequent circumstances the individual designated by the court is referred to as the Administrator with the will annexed.

The Executor/Administrators duties may include:

  •  Identifying and collecting the deceased’s assets
  •  Inventorying and appraising the assets
  • Giving notice to creditors
  • Settling any debts
  • Distributing or disposing of assets
  • Providing a settlement report to the court and all interested parties

During probate anyone claiming to be owed money has a limited period of time to come forward with their claim.  An additional responsibility of the Executor/Administrator is to make sure that all individual and estate taxes are paid.

If the sale of real estate is part of the probate the Executor/Administrator will need to find a REALTOR® familiar with the probate process.  Additionally, provisions will be necessary for the generation of various reports and disclosures as well as the maintenance and possible repair of the property.  Also, consideration must be given for the liquidation of the household contents.

After all of the assets of the decedent are either collected and/or sold, and the taxes and debts are paid, it is the responsibility of the Executor/Administrator to distribute any remaining assets in accordance with the will, or by the rules of intestate succession as determined by the court if no will exists.

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