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.