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What is Probate

The term "probate" generally refers to the court procedure for validating a will and passing ownership of property from a decedent to others. Most states have some form of simplified probate allowing many estates to be probated informally with minimal court supervision, in some states this is called a Small Estate Probate generally for estates under $25,000. (Please verify your states laws)

Informal probate can be reduced to the following steps:

  1. One of the heirs or the Personal Representative (Executor) nominated/named in the will submits a written probate application.
  2. If the application is acceptable, the court appoints the Personal Representative.
  3. Court or Personal Representative publishes notice of probate.
  4. Personal Representative notifies heirs, beneficiaries and decedentís creditors of probate.
  5. Court issues a document authorizing the Personal Representative to act (usually called Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration or Letters of Authority).
  6. Personal Representative verifies the deadlines for probate filings and for tax re-turns and determines who will do the work (Personal Representative, attorney or tax preparer).
  7. Personal Representative lists, values and collects decedentís property and may sell the decedentís home or other assets.
  8. Personal Representative files tax returns and pays tax and other debts of the decedent and estate.
  9. Personal Representative makes a full accounting to the beneficiaries and distributes the remaining property according to the will or, if none, according to state law.
  10. Personal Representative notifies the court that probate is complete. In most states, probate takes a minimum of four months. During that time creditors have the right to assert claims for payment.

Probate costs depend on the complexity of the estate and amount of professional assistance required. In some states, attorneys and Personal Representatives are allowed to charge a percentage of the estate; in other states, they are limited to flat or hourly rates.

Factors that complicate probate include minor beneficiaries, disputes among heirs, insolvency and other circumstances requiring formal probate.

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We do not offer legal advice. All information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. If you have legal questions, we recommend that you seek the advice of legal professionals.

Tax Disclaimer: To ensure compliance with IRS Rules, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein.

Copyright © 2017 Wink Tax Services / Wink Inc.
Last modified: January 30, 2017