The steps in probate estate administration

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Step one: File an application or petition to open an estate

The first step is to file an application or petition to open the estate and pick a personal representative. In this process, we’ll probate a will, if there is one. We’ll also file a petition to determine heirs.

Step two: Establish and file the inventory

Once the estate is open and a personal representative is established, we’ll need to determine the estate’s inventory. An inventory lists out all of the property the decedent owned, both real estate and personal property. We also need to establish how much all of the property is valued at. Once we know what the decedent owned and how much it’s valued at, then we can submit the inventory to the probate court for filing.

Step three: Take care of creditors and taxes

While we are establishing what the decedent owned, we’ll also determine the decedent’s debts. That means we need to determine who is owned money and how much. We’ll make sure that all creditors are properly established and paid off if the creditor timely makes a claim against the estate.

We also need to make sure the decedent’s taxes are paid off and that the government is informed of the individual’s passing. This is a quick, but necessary step before distribution and closing.

Step four: Distributions to the heirs or devisees

After the inventory is established, creditors have been paid, and taxes have been taken care of, we will be ready to make distributions to the estate’s beneficiaries. There are a number of ways of determining who receives what from the estate. Often parties simply follow the decedent’s will, if there is one. Absent a will, distribution will follow the laws for intestate succession. Another method to distribute is according to a compromise agreement the interested parties make on their own.

Step five: Closing the estate

Closing the estate comes after all of the foregoing has occurred. We’ll submit an accounting and closing statement that there’s no other property in the estate. We’ll have to submit all documents to all the beneficiaries of the estate. They’ll have an opportunity to object to the closing. Assuming there’s no objection, the estate will close and everything will be wrapped up.

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