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What do you do when you are named the executor in someone’s Will and need to administer their estate after their death? A probate may, or may not, be needed. Depending on the amount of assets in the estate, and whether or not the decedent also had a funded trust, an attorney can help you determine whether you need to open a case with the Court for probate of the decedent’s estate.
When a probate is required, there are many steps the executor needs to go through before they can distribute the estate’s assets to the beneficiaries named in the decedent’s Will. These steps may require close Court supervision and orders, and should be taken with care and diligence.
Following is a brief overview of the steps that an executor will need to take in the event of a probate. If you are currently an executor of an estate, please consult with your attorney for a detailed list of those steps legally required of you as they pertain to your case.
Step 1: Determine if a probate of the estate is required.
Step 2: Petition the Court for probate (Publish Notice in Newspaper, send Notification to Beneficiaries and Heirs). Determine if you need to obtain a Bond.
Step 3: Attend the hearing for the Petition. Is there no contest? You are now appointed the Executor. Letters Testamentary are issued which allow you to act on behalf of the decedent, marshal their assets, etc.
Step 4: Identify, collect, and manage estate assets.
Step 5: Prepare an Inventory and Appraisal of the estate assets.
Step 6: Handle Debts/Creditors.
Step 7: Sell estate property (possibly seek a court order).
Step 8: Make preliminary distributions to beneficiaries if the estate is solvent (possibly seek a court order).
Step 9: File (or waive) an Accounting. Petition the Court for final distribution of the estate.
Step 10: Transfer assets to beneficiaries and discharge the executor.
Don’t forget to check the Court’s website for additional helpful information, contact information, and resources if you are involved in a probate:
Christine Ellingsen is a Northern California native now practicing law as an estate planning attorney in Carmel Valley San Diego at the Barger Law Group, APC. She spent a year in New York working in the business sector before moving to Southern California to attend law school at the University of San Diego. She is happy to have started her law career in San Diego and to now call Encinitas home, where she keeps busy between exploring Coastal North County and training her new puppy.