What Is a Probate of an Estate?

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In short, the probate of an estate is all about the assets of a deceased person that are subject to probate administration. Probate administration is the process of determining the validity of the decedent’s will.  This is a process that can take from a few months to a few years and it follows a specific set of rules and laws.

The reason is that a probate court oversees the whole process and they set the rules and regulations that everyone involved in the proceedings must follow. If you are in the Colorado area and need help with the probate of an estate, then call a probate attorney in Denver to get the assistance you need.

Step 1: Find The Will

The first step of the process is to locate the decedent’s will. If it is not located among their belongings, then it is possible that their attorney(s) have a copy of the document. If the lawyers do not have a copy, then it could be in a safe deposit box in the decedent’s bank. The estate is intestate if the deceased did not leave a will behind, in which case the steps have to be altered to take into account the fact that the decedent’s wishes are unknown.

Step 2: Open The Estate

In order to open the estate, the will must be taken by the executor to the probate court clerk who then files it. The executor is named in the will and they are responsible for all matters concerning the decedent’s estate. If there is not a will, or an executor was not named, then the probate court appoints someone to fulfill that role. That person is called an administrator and the role is usually taken by someone close to the decedent, such as their spouse, sibling, adult child, etc.

Step 3: Take An Inventory

Next, it is necessary to catalog and inventory the assets the decedent left behind. Assets like their home and belongings are obvious but the executor needs to go deeper. They need to look for insurance policies, vehicle titles, deeds, stock certificates, and investment accounts. The executor must keep all of the paperwork and physical assets safe. Additionally, they should collect the decedent’s income tax returns from the past three years. The executor must also make sure that the accounts of the decedent are frozen so that only they have access to them.

Step 4: Assess The Assets’ Value

Physical assets, such as jewelry, artwork, real estate, vehicles, and so on should undergo a professional appraisal in order to determine their worth. The worth of any financial accounts will be obvious just by looking at them. If the decedent has non-probate assets, then they need to be assessed as well, but only if their estate is taxable on the state or federal level.

Step 5: Payment Of The Decedent’s Taxes and Expenses

The executor or administrator must then pay and file any income or estate taxes that are due. They should also pay any outstanding bills that the decedent may have left behind, as well as any payments regarding the upkeep of their estate. Those payments can include mortgages, utility bills, insurance premiums, and so on. The executor or administrator should also post a death notice in the local newspaper so that any potential creditors are notified of the decedent’s passing.

Step 6: Distribution Of Assets

The distribution of the decedent’s inheritance is the last step in the estate probate process. That is because all of the final financial transactions of the decedent must first be paid. Once they have been taken care of, the executor submits the payment records to the probate court judge for approval. Once approved, the judge then orders the executor to close the estate and transfer the assets to the decedent’s inheritors according to the will. If the decedent is intestate, then the assets pass to the spouse and family members in a process called intestate succession. That process determines the order in which the assets are distributed and varies from state to state.

Get a Probate Specialist To Help You

Whether you are setting up your own will or need help untangling someone else’s, you should contact a probate specialist to help you sort things out. The probate of an estate is a process that requires sensitivity and an eye for detail, so make certain that you find the right one to help you.

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