Probate is the process of distributing a person's estate upon her death. During this process, creditors to the estate are paid and any remaining assets or property is transferred to named beneficiaries. Having a will at the time of death makes the probate process easier and faster.
Locating and Filing the Will
Locate the deceased's will. If a will is present, the person having custody of the will should file it with the proper court in the county the deceased was residing at the time of death. The will should be filed within 30 days after the death.
Inventory all the deceased's property, assets and debts if no will is present. This can be done by calling banks, checking file cabinets and making calls to accountants and other financial planners the deceased may have had.
Once the will is filed or the list of assets and debts is tallied, begin the probate process by filing an probate application with the court. This will open the estate for probate.
Complete the Waiver and Consents form and the Notice to Creditors after filing the initial probate application. The court will direct you to other forms that need completed depending on the situation.
Appoint a personal representative, or a designated person to oversee the payment of creditors and transfer of property to beneficiaries. This can be done by filing A Declination to Act as Personal Representative with the Court.
Publish the Notice of Probate in the local newspaper. After the information is published, obtain an affidavit from the newspaper that serves as evidence of the publication.
Close the probate proceedings by having the personal representative complete and notarize the final account, closing certificates and paperwork transferring property to designated beneficiaries.
Make sure all claims by creditors to the estate are paid before transferring any property or assets to beneficiaries. Once all creditors are paid and property is transferred, the personal representative will sign a Statement of Termination and Confirmation of Interest in Property, formally closing the estate and probate process.