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What is Probate?

Probate is the judicial process that administers and settles the Estate of deceased persons. The probate court process can take quite some time and requires patience, organization, and a team of professionals to support the Personal Representative throughout the process. In general, there are three phases of probate. Find out below…


What is Probate?

It’s the most common question when someone is faced with managing the estate of a loved one who passed, and the reason it is asked – what’s really at the heart of the question – Where do I start?

As stated above, it is a judicial process, and there are many steps along the probate timeline, which is unique to each probate case for a variety of factors.  So, the length of time to complete probate can not be definitively projected.  However, probate generally takes as little as six months and as much as two years to finalize.  But to answer that question, “Where do I start?” probate can be viewed as three specific phases:

Phase 1: Filing

In the first phase, the Petitioner (Heir, Conservator, or Guardian) identifies an attorney to assist with the probate proceeding and has them file the case with the probate court. Next, the court must “prove the will,” and if proven, the estate is Testate. If there is no will, the Estate of the decedent is Intestate, which means heirs and claimants, such as creditors, must be identified and notified of the probate proceeding.  Also note that the Petitioner might choose not to hire an attorney, this is termed In Pro Per, which is no representation.  But there are very few In Pro Per Petitioners – remember, probate is a lot of work!

Phase 2: Appointment of Personal Representative

In probate, there are two types of Personal Representatives: an Executor or an Administrator. An Executor is appointed by the will of the decedent. The Administrator is appointed by the court and is usually the closest living relative. If either the Executor or the Administrator renounces their right to serve in their role, the court will appoint one from the public administrator’s office.  It normally takes 60-90 days for the “Letters” hearing date.  That is when the court will order the Appointment of the Personal Representative, so you have some time to get organized…

Phase 3: Determination & Distribution of Assets

A major part of the duties of the Personal Representative is to gather all important documents of the decedent and prepare a list of assets of the estate that are subject to probate. This can be a lot do manage, so I always recommend that my clients get help – a family member, a friend, or even hire a personal assistant.  Additional duties of the Personal Representative include paying outstanding debts, paying property taxes, and selling personal property, such as antiques, furniture, and appliances.  In some cases, the decedent’s estate includes real property (real estate) that must be sold under the court’s supervision. This court confirmation and overbidding process is a little more complicated, but intended to ensure the estate’s assets are appropriately sold.  Once all of the assets of the estate are accounted for, the court will finalize the distribution of the proceeds of the estate to the beneficiaries and claimants.

I hope this gives you an understanding of where to start –  and I’m sure you have a lot of questions and simply need someone to help you out.  

If you are are an Petitioner seeking representation, guidance, and support in finalizing a full authority or court confirmation probate real estate sale, get your spot on my calendar today.  I have a lot of resources and vendors to help you make this as easy a process as possible, and I have partnerships to help you get the highest possible price for your probate property. 


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And What is a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist


Probate is a lot of work and you can’t do it alone!

A Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist (CPRES) is a primary member of your team to help you get through the probate process.  

In Phase 1, you identify an attorney to represent you.  At the same time, you should identify an expert in Probate Real Estate if you there are real estate assets included in the Estate.  

The CPRES is educated in the state probate laws and county court process, and has the resources you will need throughout the probate process, even before you are ready to sell the real estate of the Estate.  It is also important to start early in preparing your probate listing.  You will need to prepare the property, including cleaning out the property and having your CPRES complete a review of the property to appropriately list and market it for sale.  

And I have a unique approach to help you get the highest price for your Probate property for No Up-Front Cost to you to make repairs and renovations.