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How to Make the Probate Process Simple

There is a lot to do after a death in the family. You have to deal with overwhelming feelings while also handling essential administrative tasks, such as notifying people, planning a funeral, and settling your loved one's assets. The probate process can sometimes go more smoothly if the deceased left a will, which is a legal document outlining a person's wishes for the distribution of their estate upon their death.

In a will, the deceased can have chosen an executor, and this is the person who will handle the estate. Knowing how the probate process works and which mistakes to avoid if you are appointed executor in a loved one's will will help you handle their estate and fulfill their final wishes.

Put in motion the probate procedure by submitting a petition

If you want your request considered, you must file it in the same county where the deceased person last lived. The document will ask the court to appoint you as the legitimate executor of the will. If the will is valid, it must be submitted along with the petition and the death certificate. The next step is a hearing, at which the court will decide whether or not to approve the executor. An executor is a person who has been permitted by the court to handle the estate of a deceased person and act on their behalf once probate proceedings have begun.

Valuing Assets and Assessing Debts

After being appointed by the court, the executor or personal representative is responsible for listing all of the estate's assets and providing an estimate of their value. Assets can be anything of value, such as land, cars, investments, savings, cash, possessions, or even pets.

The executor takes legal title to the assets at this point. If your assets are held in a trust, such as a living trust, the probate court will not be engaged in the distribution of those assets. The executor or personal representative of the estate is responsible for informing all known creditors of the estate procedure. There is a strict time restriction for potential claimants to submit their claims to the estate, and you have to come clean to the judge about all of the debts.

Take into account the estate

To make the probate process simple, you need to consider the estate. Trying to put a price on the estate is difficult for the executor. That is simple for financial assets (such as stocks and bank accounts). But for everything else you must calculate the value based on the time of the decedent's date of death because there are tax implications tied to that information.

In some cases, an expert opinion must determine the fair market value of the real estate, jewels, or other assets. Determining what the estate is worth is important, but you will also need to find out if the estate has enough money to pay off its obligations and maintain its current situation - things like mortgage payments on a home.

Part of an executor's responsibility for the estate also includes keeping assets safe from creditors and unauthorized recipients. There may not be enough money to meet the estate's bills and liabilities if you don’t safeguard the estate's assets.

Settle any financial obligations

Paying off the estates debts is vital if you want to make the probate process go smoothly. There are many different legal ramifications if this process is not handled properly, and you should make sure you have either spoken with an attorney or are familiar with what needs to happen before embarking on this part of the process. You do not want to find out down the line that you thought everything with the estate was settled only to discover that more debts are owed.

If part of settling the estate involves selling your home, please reach out to me so we can discuss the process and what options may be right for the estate. I you inherit a property in Tampa, FL and need contents removed or moved, let experts make it simple for you.

Distribute the assets

If there is a will, the executor or personal representative follows the testator's wishes in distributing the remaining assets. Otherwise, the assets will be distributed in line with state intestacy laws. Such a process may necessitate legal documents like deeds or titles for transferring property ownership when dealing with tangible assets like land or vehicles. If a trust is specified in the will, the executor must establish one. The court has the right to know everything about the estate. That includes its assets, debts, and how it splits everything up.

To finalize the estate, contact the court

You can let the court know by submitting a final petition. A complete and accurate accounting of all assets, expenses, and remaining assets should be included. At this time, you can ask the court to make a final distribution of the estate's assets. There is a form available from several courts that you can use for this sort of accounting. Final accounting and notice to interested parties of the estate's closure are also required. The court needs the heirs to acknowledge that they have been paid their share as proof that the assets are divided correctly.

Final Thoughts...

No two estates are the same, and handling the passing of a loved one can be more difficult for some than others, both emotionally and logistically. While you can try to navigate the process yourself, you may save time and money in the long run by hiring an attorney to help you with the process. I have several great recommendations for local probate and estate attorneys in the Tampa Bay area and would be happy to put you in touch with them. If this post helped inspire you to start thinking about making a will, there are plenty of great resources like WillMaker that I can direct you to as well.

If you know selling a property is going to be part of the estate's plan, or you are wondering if it should be part of the plan, please reach out to me anytime at 813-501-5498 or

The content found on this site is meant for informational use only and is not intended to be legal advice. Information contained herein may not be applicable to your personal situation and you should consult with an attorney if necessary. No attorney-client relationship exists between the users of this site and any other party.

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