Probate is the extensive process of proving a will is valid and dispersing assets to heirs. While estates without wills always go through probate, the process can also occur when there is a will in place before a person dies. The Balance explains what family can expect during probate, which involves quite a few components.
When there is a will written up, the court must first determine that the document is valid. During this hearing, all of the beneficiaries listed in the will will be notified so they can attend. If it’s believed the will is not valid or there are other issues, one or more heirs can object. Wills can be easily proven valid if the deceased and his or her witnesses signed the document at the same time. Witnesses can also sign a statement claiming they saw the deceased sign the will or provide testimony in court to that effect.
An executor will be appointed by the court, and this person must carry out all the tasks and duties related to the will. Finding assets is an important step that can be a lot more complex than a person might think. This is especially true when the deceased has property in multiple states or doesn’t have the right records for all assets in his or her name.
Once all assets are located, the executor must find and notify creditors who are owed money by the estate. This is so remaining debt can be paid off before assets are given to heirs as instructed in the will. Before assets can be distributed, the executor must submit a report to the court that lists all of the financial transactions that have taken place on behalf of the estate so far. From there, the court will approve the transfer of assets.