Probate is a legal process that settles your estate after your death—either according to your will orby applicable state law. The term probate refers to a set of court-supervised procedures that attempts to ensure that the assets are transferred appropriately. Under the process, the will is reviewed before administering it to make sure it is meets to legal requirements. After the property owner dies, the court usually appoints an:
a. Executor, if there is one named in the will,
b. Administrator, if the deceased didn’t leave behind a will.
The executor/administrator first collects the deceased person’s assets and uses them to pay any liabilities that the individual owes. After this, they distribute the assets among the legal beneficiaries.
One of the executor's duties is to determine the value of the deceased's estate on the date of the death. They do so during a series of valuation methods, appraisals, and reviewing account statements. In certain states, the court appoints an appraiser. In others, the executor chooses one. After the valuation process, the executor may prepare a written report and present it to the court. This report lists down all the assets, each asset's value, and the notation of when the value was derived.
The executor identifies the creditors and notifies them. In some cases, they might also need to publish the notice of death in a local newspaper to alert any unknown creditors. The creditors are usually given a limited timeframe to claim any money owed by the deceased. The executor typically also has the ability to negotiate those debts down to levels with the creditors on behalf of the estate.
Distribute the Assets
After the creditors have been settled, the executor can then proceed with distributing the balance of the estate.
An intestate estate is a unique situation in which the deceased did not leave behind a valid will. It could also happen if the probate court does not accept the will due to an error or because one of their heirs successfully contested it in court. States have intestacy laws which provide for distribution of an estate in the absence of a valid Will.
If you’re named as an executor, then you need to call an estate planning attorney. If you’re based in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio—the probate lawyers at Mike Massey Law would like to speak with you over a free phone consult. Get in touch.