Breaking Down The Probate Process

For many people the probate process may seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. So the probate attorney’s from Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A are here to make things easier.

To begin the probate process the executor of the decedent’s will must come forward with the will. If there is no will or an executor and the family cannot agree on one, then the court may assign an administrator. The executor or Personal Representative’s authority extends only as far as the decedent’s probate estate. An experienced probate attorney can clarify which assets qualify for probate. A Petition for Probate of Will and Appointment of Personal Representative’s as well as the decedent’s death certificate needs to be filed at the court clerk’s office. The court will then review the petition and an Personal Representative will be formally appointed. It is wise to have a probate lawyer assist with this process. Once this has been given the green-light the probate process can officially begin.

Step One: Probate Assets
All the decedent’s assets will need to be collected, inventoried and appraised. These assets include money owed to the decedent or estate such as life insurance or loans. Other assets such as real estate or valuable collections will need to be appraised by professionals and financial accounts such as stocks or bonds may need to be reviewed or sold in order to collect all the assets to be distributed.

Step Two: Paying-out
All debts and expenses must be paid. The Personal Representative is responsible for paying these expenses with the estate funds. Expenses will be paid usually in the following order:

  • Costs/expenses of administration (for example – attorneys or appraisers)
  • Funeral expenses
  • Debts and taxes
  • All other claims

The Personal Representative is in charge of reviewing all debts, bills or claims against the decedent. After reviewing all necessary documents and proof of claims the a Personal Representative then has the right to reject those which are deemed invalid and pay the ones that need to be paid. Rejected claims may be appealed by claimants within a particular time period; these cases may then need to be handled by probate attorneys.

Step Three: Distributing Assets
The remainder of the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries as the will states, or as the administrator sees fit if not stated, or (in the case of no will) according to intestate law. A public announcement in a newspaper is required to be published stating that the estate is in probate to allow any remaining creditors to come forward. This is also the point in the process where those who want to dispute the distribution of assets can be heard.

Even though these steps may make the probate process seem a lot simpler and manageable than before, there are many technical and important details which can be explained when contacting an experienced probate attorney. The probate attorney’s at Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A are uniquely qualified and experienced in the administration of the probate estate, they can either guide you or be the administrator.