Probate and Estate Administration
When a loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed.
If your loved one owned his or her assets through a well-drafted and properly funded living trust, no court-managed administration is likely necessary, though the successor trustee needs to administer the distribution of the deceased.
The length of time needed to complete the probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the local rules and schedule of the probate court.
Every probate estate is unique, but most involve the following steps:
- Filing of a petition with the proper probate court.
- Notice to heirs under the Will or to statutory heirs (if no Will exists).
- Petition to appoint Executor (in the case of a Will) or Administrator for the estate.
- Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Executor/Administrator.
- Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors.
- Sale of estate assets.
- Payment of estate taxes, if applicable.
- Final distribution of assets to heirs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if someone objects to a Will?
Does probate administer all property of the deceased?
- Property in which you own title as “joint tenants with right of survivorship”. Such property passes to the co-owners by operation of law and does not go through probate.
- Retirement accounts such as IRA and 401(k) accounts where there are designated beneficiaries.
- Life insurance policies.
- Bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) designations or “in trust for” designations.
- Property owned by a living trust. Legal title to such property passes to successor trustees without having to go through probate.