Filing probate is the process by which a deceased person's will is submitted to the court so that his or her property can be distributed to the heirs. The will must be filed with the court office in the jurisdiction where the individual died. The decedent's heirs and the executor of the estate must also be located. Since the probate process can be complicated, it's a good idea to hire an attorney for expert advice and help when filing probate.
When an individual dies, his or her will must be located and filed with the court so that the estate can be settled. If several signed wills are found, the latest version is the one that will be probated. Before filing the will with the court, it should be examined to determine if it mentions that a trust has been set up to hold assets. The trust document does not have to be filed with the court, but it will be needed to distribute estate's assets.
If the will contains the name of an executor, this person needs to be located before filing this document with the court. The executor is the person responsible for making sure that the decedent's wishes are carried out when distributing the assets from the estate. The executor must also make sure that the deceased's debts and any taxes owing are paid out of the estate. The debts and taxes must be paid out before any amount can be paid to the heirs.
The process of filing probate also includes locating the decedent's heirs. These are the people who would be entitled to a portion of the estate by law if the deceased died without a will. In the U.S., state law sets out who the heirs of an individual's estate are. In Canada, provincial legislation determines how a person's estate will be divided if he or she dies intestate.
An individual may find the process of filing probate very daunting. When the estate is a large one or complicated one, it makes sense to seek out professional help from a licensed attorney. The lawyer who specializes in estate matters has the knowledge and expertise to advise the executor about the procedure for filing probate and what his or her duties entail. The estate cannot be distributed until the will has been authenticated and the instructions contained in this document are followed to the letter.