Unless you have prepared a living trust, the survivors of your estate will more than likely have to go through probate when you die. Probate is a court mandated case that can take anywhere from 9 to 18 months to complete. During the process, the court will organize the transfer of property to the deceased’s heirs, decide whether any wills presented are valid, and take care of the financial responsibilities of the deceased. They will also ensure that all assets are accounted for, make sure the deceased’s debts and obligations are paid and oversee the distribution of the estate.

At King Law Firm Attorneys at Law, Inc, we can help you in every step of the Probate process, from advising on the best course of action to take to filing the correct forms with the court and ensuring that all required laws are being adhered to. We understand that every case is different, and can sometimes be extremely difficult, so we always do our best to make certain that our clients feel comfortable with the process by giving them all of the information in a clear and concise way. When our clients enter probate, they know what to expect from start to finish.

Do You Need Probate?

Not everyone must go through probate when someone dies. Several factors, including how much money the estate is worth, what type of property is involved and who is claiming the property, what type of titles belongs to the property, and whether or not there are any contractual obligations among beneficiaries will help decide if you need to enter probate or not. A knowledgeable lawyer is the best resource to help decide if probate is necessary.

Some key things to consider:

Simplified Probate

If the total value of assets is less than $150,000 and 40 days have passed since death, you may fill out an affidavit for the transfer of personal property. The court’s self-help center should be able to provide you with this form (or a sample at the very least to get you started), but a lawyer will also be able to help guide you through the process.

Probate Process

If an estate is worth over $150,000, or it is determined that the simplified process cannot be used, you must go through the process of probate to determine the distribution of assets. Probate is a much smoother process if there is a will in place, but either way, it is still a very long and sometimes tasking procedure. Knowing what’s in store can go a long way to helping you navigate it all with confidence.

  • If there is a will, whomever is in possession of the will must take it to both the probate court’s clerk’s office and to the executor within thirty days of the person’s death. If there is no will, anyone wishing to be the administrator of the deceased’s assets must file for a Petition for Letters of Administration (Form DE-111). The court will decide who will become the administrator should there be multiple petitions.
  • A Petition for Probate (Form DE-111) must then be filed, which has a couple of different options: Petition for Probate of Will and for Letters Testamentary; Petition for Probate of Will and for Letters of Administration with Will Annexed; and Petition for Letters of Administration. Contact a lawyer if you are unsure of which option to use.
  • Once a hearing date is set, the petitioner must give notice to anyone named in the will or may have a claim on any part of the estate. To do this, they must ask an outside party who has no interest in the case to notify the beneficiaries and publish a notice in a generally circulated newspaper.
  • The court will review all of the paperwork and appoint the administrator or executor, who will be tasked to round up all assets and file an Inventory and Appraisal (Form DE-160). At the same time, they will provide any creditors with a Notice of Administration to Creditors (Form DE-157) and prepare a final personal income tax. Creditors will have four months to file a claim, or else allow it to become invalid.
  • After all debts have been paid, the court will decide who receives the remaining All of the assets will then be distrusted to the beneficiaries.
  • A second hearing is set to review how everything was handled. Once the court is satisfied, final receipts to show all beneficiaries received their requisite assets are filed, the court finalizes the case and discharges the administrator or executor.

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