Probate proceeding refers to the process used to settle estates of people who have died. Probate is required within all 50 states and governed by the Uniform Probate Code. Each state handles probate differently and many have significantly altered UPC regulations. Estate administrators typically require services of an attorney or estate planner to assist with settling probated estates.
Probate proceeding letters testamentary are provided to the estate executor giving evidence they have authority to manage the estate. Some states engage in court supervised probate and require executors to obtain approval for all aspects of estate management. Other states engage in court confirmation and grant unsupervised authority; allowing the estate executor to manage the estate without making multiple court appearances.
The average probate process extends for six to nine months. The first step requires submitting decedents' last will and testament to the probate court. Wills must be reviewed to determine if they are valid and adhere to probate laws. The estate executor is named within the Will and must appear in probate court to obtain court confirmation.
Some states require probate personal representatives to post a bond. This fee is paid through the estate. In most cases, posting a bond is only required if the estate administrator resides in another state.
If the decedent did not execute a last will, a probate proceeding is required to appoint an estate executor. Most often this is the surviving spouse or family member. Estate administrators can elect to retain the services of a neutral third party, such as a probate attorney or estate planning service, to settle the estate.
Once estates enter into probate, the probate proceeding executor will notify creditors, heirs and beneficiaries. Administrators have many duties and must account for every action taken. An estate bank account is opened to record income and expenses. If decedents owned real estate or valuable personal property, Administrators must obtain property appraisals.
All outstanding debts must be paid before inheritance money or assets can be distributed. If the estate does not possess the financial ability to pay debts they must submit documentation to creditors showing the estate is financially insolvent.
The probate proceeding executor is responsible for filing a final tax return. Most administrators hire an accountant to prepare estate tax returns. The Internal Revenue Department requires final returns to be filed within nine months from the date of death. Otherwise, late fees and penalties will be assessed on any unpaid balance.
When all aspects of probate proceedings are satisfied, the final step involves distributing inheritance property to heirs and beneficiaries. Heirs are direct lineage relatives, while beneficiaries can be anyone designated by the decedent. Beneficiaries can include friends, charitable organizations, and anyone outside of the family.
Anyone receiving inheritance gifts must fill out a form stating they received the property or money. These receipts are presented through probate proceeding court, along with all supporting estate settlement documents. Once a judge approves estate settlement, the probate proceeding executor will be released from their duties.
We invite you to browse our probate article library to learn more about probate proceedings, how to avoid probate, estate planning and estate administration.
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Published on December 28, 2009 at 02:05 AM