Probate is a very complex process that entails many different steps, such as determining a will’s validity and paying off outstanding debts. Even if you have a will in place at the time of your death your will may still enter into probate, especially if your family has objections. explains a few of the things that can occur during a probate hearing.

Authentication of the will

A judge is needed to determine whether a will is legally valid. At the hearing, involved parties can bring up concerns about the will and its legal standing, which will then be addressed by the court. Witnesses may also be brought in to attest that the deceased actually signed the will and was of sound mind at the time of the signing.

Locating assets

In some cases, the deceased may have assets that he or she was not aware of. Accordingly, the executor will need to locate these assets to have them included during the probate hearing. Assets can often be found by looking at tax returns, insurance policies, and other documents.

Settling debt

Creditors need to be located, which involves directly contacting them or placing an ad in the paper notifying the public of a person’s death. Creditors must make contact in a fixed period of time or they run the risk of not being able to collect money owed. This amount of time can vary state by state.

Distributing assets

In order to distribute assets to named heirs, the executor will need to petition the court. This entails listing debts and taxes that were paid off during probate, as well as other types of accounting. Once the court approves, assets can be dispersed. If there are minors among the heirs, a trust fund may also be created.