Probate Process: How It Begins

The probate process is one that can take some time to complete. If you are faced with the possibility of going through probate after the death of a loved one, here is how you should expect the process to begin.

Personal Representative

At the beginning of the probate process, a personal representative is going to have to be appointed to handle many issues for the estate. If the deceased individual had a will, they most likely appointed someone that was close to them to be the executor of their estate. If this is the case, someone will have to alert the executor that they are needed.

If the deceased individual did not have a will, the probate court will typically appoint someone to handle the duties instead. This person is known as the administrator of the estate. Most of the time, the court is going to appoint someone that is a family member or friend of the family.

Documents

At the beginning of the process, the personal representative is going to have to come up with some documents. If there was a will, the personal representative needs to get access to it. In addition to acquiring the will, the personal representative will also have to get a copy of the death certificate for the deceased individual. This can be done by writing to the vital records office of the state of the deceased. There will be a nominal fee involved with this process.

Petition

In order to initiate the actual probate process, the personal representative is going to have to go to the probate court. They will have to file a document that is known as a petition in most cases. Sometimes, this document will be filed at the County Clerk's office. To file a petition, the personal representative is going to have to provide a copy of the will and the death certificate to the probate court. Otherwise, the probate court will not allow the process to move forward.

Court Date

After the personal representative has filed a petition with the court, they will typically set up a date in which to go in front of the probate judge. When the personal representative is in front of the judge, they will ask to be officially appointed as executor or administrator of the estate. At that point, the judge will decide if they should officially be appointed or not. The personal represented is also going to provide the will to the judge for inspection. The judge is going to look at the will and make sure that it appears to be valid. If the will meet all of the requirements for validity in that state, the judge will then admit the will into probate. When the will is admitted into probate, it becomes a matter of public record. Anyone can then gain access to what is included in the will. 

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