Losing a loved one is never easy. From personal and professional experience, we believe that no other type of personal or professional setback can compare with losing a loved one. Following the death of a parent, sibling, or child, some of our clients are tasked with the burden of overseeing the administration of a deceased loved one’s affairs. While no two situations are alike, we generally follow the following steps when a probate court proceeding is needed:
- After the funeral is over, and the death certificates have arrived, it is time to schedule an appointment with our office. Please bring along the original Will, Trust or other estate plan documents. In addition, please complete and bring the Probate Information Form.
- We encourage you to also gather as much financial information as possible to bring with you, including bank account statements, retirement account statements, life insurance, outstanding medical bills or other debts, real estate tax statement, and the most recent income tax return.
- After analyzing the estate assets and determining that a probate proceeding is needed, we will prepare the documents to file with the Court. In addition, it will be necessary to put together an inventory of all estate assets noting the date-of-death value of each. This information will be needed for tax purposes.
- Upon the Court’s receipt of the documents, they will open a file and issue a Notice of Probate, Appointment of Personal Representative and Notice to Creditors. This Notice will be mailed to all interested parties and published in the newspaper for two weeks.
- We will prepare a Notice to Commissioner of Human Services as required by law to notify them of the probate proceeding. If there are any medical assistance claims, they will file a claim in the probate court, as well as send it to us.
- After the publication is complete, the Court will issue Letters Testamentary which will give the Personal Representative the authority to act on behalf of the estate to complete all administrative duties, including consolidation of all assets into one account, and to sell any real estate.
- Once the Letters have been issued, we will provide you with a tax identification number for the estate. These two items will be needed to open an estate checking account. As assets are liquidated, they should be deposited into the estate account.
- As funds become available, the Personal Representative is responsible for payment of all debts of Decedent, including medical expenses, funeral expenses, taxes and any other known creditors. A final federal and state tax return will need to be filed on behalf of the decedent.
- After all the assets are liquidated and debts paid, the personal representative should prepare a final accounting of the estate administration.
- Copies of the accounting are sent to all beneficiaries with their distribution checks pursuant to the terms of the Will.
- When the distributions are complete, and receipts returned, we will prepare a Closing Statement to file with the Court so they can close their file.
This summary is just a brief overview of the process to help you understand the court procedure. We will be happy to assist you as needed and guide you through the process so as to make it as stress free as possible. Please call or email us with any questions or to schedule an appointment.