1. Gather data related to accounts and property owned by the deceased:
Before a probate can begin, it is important to collect all information relevant to the deceased's assets. This includes any bank accounts or investments, real estate properties, vehicles, furniture and jewelry. It is also important to gather any paper documents related to these assets such as deeds, titles, account statements and tax returns.
2. Determine who inherits property
The deceased's will should specify which individuals or entities are to receive their assets upon their passing. It is important to review the document carefully to ensure that all instructions are followed accurately. The court may also need additional proof of ownership of certain items such as real estate or vehicles before they can be transferred to heirs.
3. Locate beneficiaries
Before an estate can be settled, it is important for the executor or administrator of the will to locate all potential beneficiaries listed in the will so that they can be notified about their inheritance rights and responsibilities under probate law. This includes determining if any creditors are listed and providing them with proper notification.
4. Obtain death certificates
In order for the probate process to begin, a certified copy of the deceased's death certificate must be obtained. This document can be requested from the state or county where the death occurred.
5. Submit tax returns
The executor or administrator of an estate is responsible for submitting all required tax returns on behalf of the deceased during probate. This includes any federal, state and local taxes that may be due. The executor should consult with a qualified accountant or tax professional before filing these returns.
6. Transfer titles and deeds
Before any real property can be transferred to heirs, it is important to ensure that all titles and deeds are properly transferred in accordance with state probate laws. This includes consulting with a real estate attorney to ensure that the transfer process is handled correctly.
7. Distribute tangible personal property
The executor of an estate must also make sure that any tangible items such as jewelry, furniture or cars are distributed to the proper heirs according to the wishes of the deceased. It is important to keep detailed records of who receives each item and its estimated value if applicable.
8. Liquidate investments
If necessary, the executor may need to liquidate certain investments owned by the estate in order to pay creditors or taxes owed by the deceased. All proceeds from these sales should be carefully tracked so that they can be credited towards debts or distributed to heirs accordingly.
9. Pay creditors
Once all debts and taxes have been accounted for, the executor must make sure to pay any remaining creditors listed in the will. This includes notifying them of their rights and providing proof of payment once completed.
10. Close out bank accounts
Finally, the executor or administrator should close out any active bank accounts belonging to the deceased and transfer any remaining funds into a trust account pending distribution to heirs. All records associated with these transactions should be properly documented and maintained for future reference.