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How does the probate process work?

The probate process typically include appointing a personal representative to file papers such as a Petition for Probate of Will with the probate court; notifying creditors and the public of decedent's death; Inventorying estate property; paying debts and taxes; and distributing the remaining property to the beneficiaries as indicated in the will or state law, if the decedent died intestate.

Appointing a Personal Representative

A personal representative or the person in charge of the estate is usually named in a will. A personal representative can be a family member, such as a spouse or an adult child, or any person that the decedent selects to act on behalf of the estate. In cases where there is no will; a personal representative has not been appointed; or the person appointed is unable to perform his or her duty; the court then appoints the person to represent the estate.

The court-selected or will-nominated personal representative has to be formally appointed by the court before he or she can start performing estate-related functions. The court typically gives the personal representative a certified document called the Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary as evidence that the person has authority to act on behalf of the estate.

To begin the probate process, the personal representative files a document called a Petition for Probate of Will and Appointment of Personal Representative with the probate court. If the decedent died with a will, the probate court validates the will and admit it to probate.

Stay tuned for more on this topic on our subsequent blog.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.

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