What is Probate?
The legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person by resolving all claims against them, and distributing the deceased person's property under a validly executed will or by intestacy.
The Role of the Probate Court
- Decides the validity of a deceased's will;
- Interprets the instructions of the deceased;
- Approves the personal representative; and
- Decides the interests of heirs and other parties who may have claims against the estate.
Duties of the Personal Representative
- Duty to Discover & Protect Assets
- Locate and appraise all the assets of the deceased and create an estimated value of the estate.
- Duty to Notify Interested Parties
- Notify all heirs and beneficiaries of the appointment of a Personal Representative;
- Alert state and federal agencies of the deceased's passing;
- Notify all creditors that can be ascertained by reasonable efforts with actual notice, and provide constructive notice to alert any unknown creditors;
- Duty to Pay Debts, Obligations & Taxes
- Continue to pay the bills and support obligations of the deceased.
- Handling the estate tax and filing deceased's final income tax return.
- Duty to Distribute Assets & Close the Estate
- Once the court approves the final accounting of the estate, the Personal Representative oversees the distribution of the assets to their intended recipients.
- Duty of Loyalty
- The Personal Representative has an obligation to act solely in the estate's best interest and remain impartial between beneficiaries.