What Is Probate
Probate is the process of doing the following under court supervision:
1. Getting court recognition of the decedent's will, if any;
2. Establishing who are the decedent's heirs (the will says who gets the decedent's property , but if there is no will the decedent's heirs get the property);
3. Getting someone appointed by the court with power to administer the estate (this person is called an executor if there is a will and an administrator if there is no will.
4. Identifying and collecting the deceased's assets;
5. Ascertaining who the creditors are and paying them;
6. Filing any necessary tax returns and paying the taxes;
7. Accounting for all the property, income and expenses to the heirs or legatees;
8. Making distribution of what is left after payment of all expenses.
The degree of court supervision varies. Usually there is minimal court involvement and the process is called independent administration. However, anyone involved can get the process converted to a supervised administration. In that case almost all acts of the executor or administrator require court approval. This includes acts such as selling, leasing, mortgaging and investing.
Probate proceedings are usually filed in the county where the decedent lived.
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