Probate, simply, is the process of petitioning the court to give someone (usually the person filing the petition) authority to administer a deceased person’s estate. If the decedent left a Last Will and Testament, that document should be filed with the court and the person named as Personal Representative in that document should be given the authority to do as the Will directs.
After the petition is filed, all other direct heirs of the decedent must be given notice and an opportunity to respond to the action if they choose. If the heirs are not in agreement as to who should be named Personal Representative, the court will have a hearing to determine who should serve in the position.
If the decedent owned property in multiple states, the probate process will need to be repeated in each state. While the processes are very similar in each state, you should consult an attorney in each state to assist you.
Once the Personal Representative is chosen, he or she will be given authority to sell and distribute the decedent’s property. The Personal Representative must give notice to creditors, usually through the newspaper, and allow them an opportunity to make a claim against the estate. Once the creditor’s claims period has closed, the Personal Representative should distribute the decedent’s remaining estate to his or her heirs according to the decedent’s Will or Intestate Succession laws.
The attorneys at Slemboski & Tobler have assisted countless people through probate process for both large and small estates. We encourage everyone to complete Estate Planning to avoid probate, but if you find yourself in a position of needing to probate a family member’s or friend’s estate, we would be happy to help.