When it comes to managing a deceased’s estate, which is commonly known as the probate process, many people believe that it is complicated and daunting. However, in some instances it can be as simple as just four steps that you can discuss with an estate planning law firm Ridgefield, CT trusts.
Probate is the process in which certain debts of the deceased may be settled and a legal title to the deceased’s property held in their name alone is transferred to beneficiaries and heirs. If the deceased had a will, and there is property subject to probate, the probate process would begin when the executor presents the will for probate in the county where the deceased lived or had property. The executor is named by the deceased in their will. If there is no will, someone will need to ask the court to be appointed as the executor of the deceased’s estate. Usually, this will be the adult child or spouse of the deceased. Once the court agrees to appoint someone as the executor, they will legally represent the estate.
- File an application and provide notice to the beneficiaries and heirs. As previously mentioned, the process begins when the application is filed to either admit the will to probate and appoint the executor or to appoint an executor if there is no will. An announcement of the court hearing regarding the application will need to be provided to all of the deceased’s beneficiaries and heirs. If someone objects to the application, they will have the opportunity to speak in court about it. The announcement of the application is also normally published in the local newspaper to try and notify others, such as any creditors of the deceased which may not be known.
- Once appointed by the court, the executor will need to tell all known creditors about the estate and then take inventory of all of the property in the estate. The executor will then provide written notice to any creditors of the estate, according to state law. If a creditor chooses to make a claim on any of the assets of the estate, they will need to do so in a limited amount of time. The deceased’s probate property will be inventoried, which includes stocks, property, business interests, bonds, and other assets. Depending on the state, a court appointed appraiser may be required to appraise the assets.
- The estate must pay for all estate and funeral expenses, taxes, and debts. The executor will need to decide which of the creditor’s claims are valid and pay those as well as any other final bills from the estate. Sometimes the executor is able to sell assets to fulfill the deceased’s obligations.
- Property titles are transferred according to the will or according to the laws of intestacy. After the permitted waiting period for creditors to file claims against the estate, as well as all bills and claims being paid, the executor will petition the court to allow them to have the authority to transfer any remaining assets to the heirs and beneficiaries as indicated in the will or according to the state intestate succession laws.
Thank you to our contributors at Sweeney Legal, LLC for their insight into probate and estate planning.