The Process Of Probate Made Simple
Many people often wonder what it means to probate a will. It is both complex but linear in its simplicity. Before one can probate a will, a last will and testament must be in place. The first step is to consult a probate attorney about the execution of your will. Once you have put that into place and your will is complete, you are finished with your part of the job.
Although your will is complete, it will not be in the probate phase until after your passing. In other words, while you are alive, your will will remain filed with the courts, with another copy in your attorneys safe deposit box and a notarized copy which you will hold on to. Once the person passes, he or she becomes a decedent and it is at this time that the will is probated.
Generally a will cannot be probated until the decedent or testator, which is another word for decedent, has been dead for 10 days. If an attempt is made before 10 days has passed, the Surrogate Court will refuse to process the paperwork.
If you are the executor under the terms of the will, you will need to bring several documents to the Surrogate Courthouse. Those documents include the original will in its original state. Any will that appears to have been tampered with will be issued null and void. A certified death certificate from the municipality in which the testator died will be necessary as well as a certified check or money order for probate fees.
In some states some documents can be e-filed through the Surrogate Court’s website. However, it is advisable that you call in advance and find out what the process is and what’s documents are acceptable on the e-file webpage.
In some states it is necessary to bring a person who witnessed the decedent and 2 witnesses sign the will. This is necessary for authentication. This process is not required in many states, and can make the process more complicated than it needs to be.
The next step is the issuance of Letters Testamentary or Letters as they are sometimes called. These letters give the executor the legal right to probate the will in accordance with the law. It is at this time, before disbursement of the funds, that the issue of any outstanding debts are resolved on behalf of the decedent.
There are also tax liabilities and federal taxes which will have to be paid before the estate can be closed. There are also inheritance taxes which are the responsibility of those who have inherited from the decedent’s estate.
Probating a will is a linear job in that there are steps to be followed in an orderly manner. The first step is a last will and testament that is satisfactory to the client once the probate attorney has completed executing it. As with everything in life, having things in place, makes for a more organized legal process.