Table of Contents:
- How to Probate a Will in Alabama
- How to Probate a Will in Ohio
- How Do I Probate a Will in Texas?
- How to Probate a Will in Georgia
Get the will. You can only probate will once the testator, the person who made the will, dies. Alabama Code § 43-8-160 requires anyone in custody of the will to present it to the court for probate. If you are in possession of the will when the testator dies, get your copy of the will and make sure it is complete.
File the will. Once you have the will, Alabama Code § 43-8-162(1) requires that you take it to the county courthouse in the county where the decedent kept his residence, not where he died. If the testator didn't live in Alabama, you can file the will in any county where the testator owned property.
Prove the will. Once you take the will to the correct courthouse, you may have to prove it. Alabama Code § 43-8-167 allows you to sign an affidavit and affirm, under oath, that you believe the will is the person's last will and testament. Some wills are self proven, meaning there are attached affidavits provided by the testator and witnesses. If the will is self proven, you won't have to submit your affidavit when filing it with the probate clerk.
Await the court's decision. Once the will is filed, the court will read it and determine who to appoint as personal representative. Alabama Code § 43-8-164 requires a 10-day waiting period between filing of the and when the court can make a decision. Once the court names personal representative, it grants this person the legal authority to start distributing estate assets through the granting of Letters of Testamentary.
Distribute the property. If you have been named as the personal representative, it is your duty to take an inventory of all the estate assets and notify any interested party of the process. After this, you'll have to pay the debts and distribute any remaining property in accordance with the terms of the will.
Obtain the original last will and testament. Ohio law requires the filing of the original will with the probate court.
Request a standard form petition for probate of will and appointment of executor. The clerk of the probate court typically maintains standard forms for use by individuals not represented by legal counsel.
Complete the petition for probate of will and appointment of executor. Key elements of the document include the name and date of death of the deceased. Additionally, a listing of the names and last known addresses of all heirs named in the will is included in the petition. Finally, list the name of the person the will nominates as executor of the estate. The executor is the individual that oversees the affairs of the estate on a day to day basis.
File the petition together with the original will with the court clerk.
Obtain a hearing date from either the clerk of the court or the administrative assistant to the judge assigned the case.
Notify all of the heirs named in the will of the date and time of the hearing.
Obtain from the court clerk a standard form legal notice to creditors for publication in the local newspaper. Ohio law requires that before the hearing to admit a will to probate and to appoint an executor, legal notice of the proceedings be published in a newspaper of local circulation.
Attend the hearing and request the court admit the will to probate and appoint the individual named by the decedent in the will the executor of the estate.
Application for Probate
The first step of the Texas probate process involves filing the will and an application to open the estate. Go to the court in the county where the deceased last lived. Then you must wait two weeks while the court clerk posts notice at the courthouse, alerting anyone with an interest in the estate that it’s about to enter probate. If anyone wants to contest the will, he has these two weeks to act. The court will then hold a hearing to determine whether the will is valid and whether you meet all the state’s qualifications to serve as executor. Although it’s not a state law, most Texas counties require that executors be represented by an attorney.
Texas law allows you to elect an independent administration of the estate, which is much easier than a dependent administration, which requires that you get the court’s permission to take certain actions. Many wills provide for independent administration, but even if the one you’re administering doesn’t, you can ask the court to allow you to handle the estate this way. All the will’s beneficiaries must be in agreement.
You might elect a dependent administration if you expect trouble from the beneficiaries. For example, you might have reason to believe that one or more of them won’t be happy with anything you do or any decision you make. In this case, you can choose to run everything past a judge first before you act. The probate process is largely the same in either case, but the court will first put its seal of approval on what you do every step of the way. If all beneficiaries don’t agree to an independent administration, you’ll be stuck with this option.
Regardless of which type of administration you choose, you must file an inventory of all the decedent’s probate property with the court within 90 days of taking office. You must publish a notice to the deceased’s creditors, advising them how to make a claim to the estate for the money he owed them. If he’s survived by a spouse or minor children, you must provide them with a family allowance. A judge will decide exactly how much this allowance should be, so you’ll have to involve the court for this step even if you’ve elected an independent administration. After you pay all legitimate claims, burial costs, the decedent’s taxes and expenses of the estate, you can make bequests to beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. You don’t have to account to the court first before closing the estate if you choose an independent administration.
Texas law offers a few ways of avoiding probate in some cases. You can request a muniment of title process if the deceased leaves no debts that aren’t secured by property and if Medicaid doesn’t have a claim against his estate. The court won’t appoint an executor; ownership of his property can be transferred by producing a copy of the will. If the decedent left minimal assets -- just enough to pay the family allowance and his creditors -- the court may give you permission to use a simplified small estate probate. You need only show the court where the money went and the judge will allow you to close the estate. If there’s only enough money to pay the family allowance and expenses associated with the deceased’s burial and final illness, the court can issue an order of no administration at all.
Find the executor of the will. In Georgia, the named executor in a will should be the one to file the will with the Georgia probate courts. If the will does not name a person named to handle the estate, the individual who possesses the will may file it. The heirs must name a temporary administrator or a permanent administrator for the probate process.
Visit the local county probate court or visit Georgia Probate Courts online to complete and file Standard Form No. 5--Petition to Probate Will in Solemn Form.
Find the names and addresses of all living relatives of the deceased, also called the decedent. The filer will be required to list all the heirs in the petition to probate will.
Collect money from heirs for filing the will with the court. As of 2010, Georgia required a $117 filing fee plus a $2 filing fee for each page, including the standard form and the actual will. The actual will may be copied for $5. The court must have the original.
Secure a lawyer. The Georgia probate courts recommend heirs obtain legal services during the probate process if there are debts owed, benefit claims or tax issues. Choosing not to hire a lawyer gives heirs the status of proceeding pro se.