The Probate Process from Start to Finish

Even when one’s will seems to be thoroughly outlined and legally sound, these situations can often become muddled and confusing within a short period of time. This could result in the probate process, which will change by state and sometimes even by county. Here is a closer look at exactly what probate is, how it is carried out, and what everyone should know about this often misunderstood situation.

The Basics of Probate

Probate is a legal process that is designed to carry out the final wishes of a deceased party. In some situations, this requires nothing more than an executor and legally-backed will but that is not always the case. Probate is a series of steps in which an executor proves that the will is valid to the court and then carries out all legal matters regarding the deceased party’s assets. In many situations, this will require everything from the repeated filing of paperwork to multiple courtroom appearances.


Quite a few states have currently adopted the UPC, or Uniform Probate Code. This code is designed to make the process as uniform as possible between every single state. While both UPC states and non-UPC states do have a relatively similar process, minor variations may require the services of a local attorney that understands these nuances.

The Steps of Probate

The probate process begins with the executor filing the proper paperwork to prove that the will is in fact legal and valid, generally nothing more than a matter of routine. Once approved, the executor will then begin to categorize all assets left behind. This may include everything from liquid assets and bank account funds to life insurance policies and physical property. Depending on the size of the estate and the county in which the probate is being filed, a bond may need to be posted by the executor to protect the estate from any lost funds.

After all assets have been appraised and categorized, outstanding debts and taxes will be the first thing that is paid. Any remaining assets will then be distributed to the heirs, after which the executor will file receipts and petition to be released from his or her duties.

All parties should understand that this process often requires the filing of dozens of forms ranging from executor petitions to a legally-binding ad in the newspaper announcing the probate. The easiest way to prevent any legal or financial issues throughout this process is to utilize the services of an attorney that understands all county and state laws regarding wills, estate planning, and probate.


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