How to Reopen an Estate. Opening a deceased relative's closed estate is challenging because you have to give the court a valid reason to reopen it. Give your local courthouse documented proof of your recently discovered reason. Let the court know everything you uncovered and allow it some time for an objective decision. And go through proper legal channels by fully investigating the new information before deciding to open a closed estate.
Hire a probate attorney to help you understand what you're required to do to reopen your deceased relative's estate. Give the attorney every record you have on the estate, such as financial and legal records. Ask questions about what you need to do before taking the first legal step.
Fill out a petition to reopen the estate for the deceased's estate. Also fill out separate forms declaring completion of probate and a notice of refiling. Document approval from all family members on a "Receipt & Waiver by Heir or Beneficiary" form before you proceed further.
Gather information on the estate's newfound assets and get an appraisal to find out how much they're worth. Choose an investigator to research the deceased's financial history and the new information. Give your supplemental inventory form to the estate representative within 91 days of filing your petition.
Get a certified copy of the deceased's death certificate in case the judge wants to see a copy. You don't need to file the death certificate because the death is already documented, but the judge needs to see the certificate personally.
Update the will to include the new information after the judge makes a ruling. Divide the assets according to the most current will's provisions for heirs and beneficiaries. Let your attorney file any necessary documentation to distribute the assets.
Make sure the deceased's state and federal taxes have been paid off completely. Obtain a copy of his last federal and state forms to make sure he paid everything before his death. If his taxes aren't paid off, you could be responsible for paying the difference.
Don't forget to close the reopened estate within a year after you had it reopened. You must file another petition to close the estate again. If you don't close it, the estate remains open until you do so. Once the estate is closed, your family can focus on maintaining the estate again.