10 Most Important Aspects of Probate

  1. ​Read the Will of the Decedent. The executor would have been named in the will. This is the desired individual of the decedent to handle the distribution of funds as outlined in the will. The executor will meet with the family or other interested parties and with persons familiar with the financial affairs of the decedent.
  2. File Petition for Probate with Superior Court in the county where the decedent resided. The person named as Executor in the will does not become the true executor until the court reviews the will and makes the appointment of the executor. This can take up to 90-days after filing.
  3. Safeguards the Estate For Behalf of the Beneficiaries. If there is real property involved, it is important to continue paying the insurance premium for all properties in the estate. As well, personal property must also be protected and if necessary, insured. Upkeep and maintenance of any property must also be done for the benefit of the estate.
  4. Create an Inventory List. Identify all banking account information, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, pension, retirement accounts and the like.
  5. Procure Appraisal of all Assets. Gather complete and satisfactory evidence of the value of assets at the date of death.
  6. Administer the Estate. Governed by the wishes expressed in the will, the requirements of the estate and the local probate law.
    a. Gives special study to valuable collections, determines method and time for sale of articles not bequeathed, makes a careful estimate of the amount of cash to be raised for payment of taxes, legacies and expenses of administration and of probate net estate distributions.
    b. Gives exhaustive studies to business interests and determines policy of continuation, liquidation or sale with due regard to expressions in the will. Carries out or adjusts incomplete contracts.
    c. Makes comprehensive review of market conditions for each security to decide which should be sold first, if necessary to meet tax expenses, claims and specific bequests.
    d. Investigates all real estate from the standpoint of earnings, market and desirability in case circumstances require its sale.
  7. Prepare Tax Returns
    a. Pay Income tax. Carefully investigate possible tax claims for prior years and that no other tax liability exists.
    b. Pay inheritance and estate tax
    c. Account for income tax for partial year prior to death and partial year after death.
    d. Obtain waivers for transfer of securities
    e. Arrange for necessary proceedings to release securities of property located in other states.
  8. Settle all proper claims.
    a. Publish notice to creditors in a legal newspaper.
    b. Distribute payment for all approved and allowed claims.
  9. Distribute Probate Estate.
  10. Obtain final discharge.