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Probate is the process of proving a will and executing it according to the decedent’s wishes. It is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is properly distributed to heirs and designated beneficiaries and any debt owed to creditors is paid off. Almost any asset, no matter how small, may be subjected to the probate process after someone’s death. 

The following is a summary of how the process works:


  1. The Will of the decedent (the person who has passed away) is found and verified as legal. It must be filed with the probate court in the county where the testator (the person who wrote the will) died.

  2. A personal representative is appointed by the will or by the court. Documents like the Petition for Administration are signed and notarized.

  3. Probate bonds are posted. This acts as insurance that the Personal Representative will fulfill their duties and comply with state laws.

  4. Letters of Administration from the probate court are received. This gives the Personal Representative official authority to take care of the decedent's estate.

  5. Assets are located and protected. All bank accounts, investment portfolios, collectibles, vehicles, real estate property, and other assets are placed in exclusive control of the personal representative.

  6. Assets are appraised based on Date of Death values and an inventory is filed with the court. Copies may be required for your state's Department of Revenue

  7. The decedent's creditors are notified. They are given a limited period of time to make a claim against the estate.

  8. The decedent's debts are paid off. Appropriate assets are liquidated and all proceeds are placed in the Estate Account. Real property that isn't bequeathed to a beneficiary can now be sold.

  9. The personal representative must also file the decedent's personal income tax returns for the year in which they died. Any taxes due will be paid from the Estate Account.

  10. The remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries according to the will. The Personal Representative usually has to get permission from the probate court first.

Here are the steps to receiving your inheritance:


  1. Inventory the decedent’s documents and assets

  2. Get appointed as the Personal Representative for Successor Trustee

  3. Value the decedent’s assets

  4. Pay the decedent’s final bills and ongoing administration expenses.

  5. File applicable tax returns and pay applicable taxes.

  6. Distribute what’s left to the beneficiaries.

There is more to the process, and talking with a knowledgeable and local probate attorney is usually your best course of action. But if you have questions about anything to do with the home or real property (including what it may be worth, what you may need to do to get it ready for sale, or what to expect from the selling process), I am happy to help with a free consultation, so please reach out to me.

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