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Vintage Old Justice Courthouse

The Probate Process Is Complex

When someone dies without a trust, their estate must be probated. Probate is the court-supervised process of authenticating a Will (if the decedent made one), locating and determining the value of the decedent's assets, paying the final bills and taxes, and distributing the estate to the rightful heirs/beneficiaries.

A petition for probate will have to be filed in the county in which the deceased person was living at the time of death. and a legal representative of the estate will be appointed to (this list is non-exhaustive):

  • Notify various state agencies of the death, as required by state law;

  • Prepare and file an inventory and appraisal of estate assets;

  • Obtain valuations for all estate assets;

  • Mail a notice to creditors and pay debts;

  • Arrange for preparation of federal and state income tax returns;

  • Arrange for preparation of a federal estate tax return (most estates are not large enough to be required to file);

  • Keep detailed records of all deposits and withdrawals and prepare an accounting of the estate for heirs/beneficiaries;

  • Get the court's permission to distribute property; and

  • Transfer assets to heirs/beneficiaries and get receipts.

Streamlined Procedures May Be Available

Sometimes, a full, formal probate administration can be avoided. If the deceased person owned assets in joint tenancy with someone else, or as survivorship community property with his or her spouse, those assets likely won't need to go through probate. The same is true for accounts for which a pay-on-death beneficiary has been named. Assets inherited by the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner and certain small estates can also be transferred through a streamlined procedure.

Contact The Law Office Of Nicole Warmerdam

Families are often overwhelmed with the legal paperwork involved in wrapping up a loved one's estate. You should seek the guidance of an experienced probate administration attorney to help you through this complex legal process. We can help demystify this process for you and advise you regarding what you need to do at each step along the way. 


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