The Probate Process: What to Expect
Going through probate is often necessary to completely wrap up the estate of a recently deceased loved one. The estate administrator (or executor) works under the probate court’s supervision to complete several different tasks to fulfill all the estate’s responsibilities, such as distributing assets and paying debts.
The following is a general overview of what to expect during the probate process.
- Starting the process: To begin, the executor must file the death certificate, the will (if one exists) and a formal petition in the probate court of the county in which the deceased lived. The executor then works with the court to wrap up the various elements of the estate that still need to be handled, first notifying all creditors and heirs of the estate owner’s passing.
- Property inventory: After the executor has made the proper notifications, he or she must begin taking inventory of the estate property, including any debts left unpaid. Certain property may be excluded if it was in a trust or passed down to a beneficiary in another way. All non-cash assets should be appraised to determine a fair value if they are suspected to have significant value. This information gets filed in probate court.
- Paying off debts: The executor uses the estate’s cash and assets to pay off debts, including any legitimate claims creditors make. This person is also in charge of filing a final tax return on behalf of the deceased and paying any taxes the estate owes. Finally, the executor will collect any debts owed to the estate. Property distribution does not begin until all accounts are settled and a certain waiting period has elapsed.
If you could use the guidance of an experienced legal professional during the probate process in Florida, consult a knowledgeable estate administration attorney with The Charles Law Office.