There are many different reasons why your estate may end up in probate court after you die. Even if you have a solid estate plan in place you could still run into issues, such as disputes from heirs, failures to properly fund trusts, or mistakes and omissions in wills. To ensure you’re completely informed about the process, The Balance offers the following information.
Inventory of estate planning documents
There are numerous documents that make up an estate plan. Along with information on wills and trusts, you’ll also need bank statements, documents relating to life insurance policies, instructions on funeral planning and burials, as well as many other documents. As a result, it will be up to your personal representative to bring these documents together when preparing for probate. Once all of the necessary information is compiled, property and assets should be listed out, as well as any remaining debts.
Valuation of assets
There is a deadline to when your personal representative can file with the probate court. In many cases, it must take place within 30 to 90 days of when probate was opened. This entails contacting financial entities where assets are held, appraising personal property, and addressing any issues with taxes. If money is owed to creditors, it will be up to the personal representative to make sure these outstanding balances are settled, along with paying any applicable taxes.
Distribute remaining assets
The last step in the probate process is to distribute assets among heirs. This step can only take place after all debts have been paid and all administrative costs have been covered. If the personal representative fails to account for these expenses and disperses assets anyway, he or she could be left financially responsible for any money still owed.