If your loved one died with an estate, and you were designated as the administer of that estate while it goes through probate, it is important to understand your legal rights and responsibilities. Probate is the process of settling an estate by distributing the assets to the beneficiaries according to the will. Although both processes can be overwhelming at first, with a little assistance, it becomes manageable. To help you navigate the probate and trust administration process, we have provided an overview of some of the most common tasks involved as well as tips for getting through the process as smoothly as possible.
How to Probate an Estate
The first step in administering an estate is to file a petition for probate with the local probate court. The court will notify any creditors with an interest in the estate. Creditors have six months from the time of notification to file claims seeking payment from the decedent’s estate. During this time, you should ensure that any outstanding bills are paid and that the estate has adequate funds to pay the claims after the claim period expires. Once the probate petition has been filed, the court will appoint an administrator for the estate who will be responsible for managing and distributing the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. The administrator will also have the responsibility of notifying the beneficiaries of the decedent’s death and preparing any necessary tax forms.
Managing the Estate After the Creditors’ Claim Period Expires
Once the creditors’ claim period has expired, the administrator will be responsible for closing out the decedent’s accounts and paying any remaining debts associated with the estate. If the estate has no outstanding debts at the time of the decedent’s death, nothing will need to be paid and those assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. The administrator is also responsible for making arrangements for the transfer of assets. Typically, this will involve placing real estate in the name of the heirs and selling any other major assets if necessary. Some assets may need to be sold for the benefit of the estate in order to cover expenses such as taxes and debts. The administrator will need to notify all interested parties before a property is sold in order to ensure that their interests are protected. After the property is sold, the proceeds will be deposited into an estate account and all expenses incurred during the administration of the estate will be deducted from the account before they are distributed to the beneficiary(ies). When the assets are to be distributed, the administrator will prepare a final report listing all of the assets that were transferred and the costs associated with the administration of the estate. This report will be presented to the court for approval before it is presented to the beneficiaries for their review.
While this guide is a great start to the probate process, it doesn’t cover all of the ins and outs of the probate process. In order to ensure that you are fully prepared for your role as an executor or administrator, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced estate planning attorney prior to starting the process. Kentucky Estate Planning Law Center is here to help make probate simple – contact us today for assistance in your own probate process.