Ex. Died without a Will

Example – Let’s assume the Decedent does not have a Will (PLEASE NOTE – this is a very simplified description of the probate process)

  1. If the Decedent died without a Will, we will ask you for the family and marital history of the Decedent.
  2. We will file an application to determine heirship in order to establish the beneficiaries of the estate.
  3. We will also file an application for Letters of Administration to appoint the Administrator who will handle the affairs of the estate.
  4. The court will require two (2) witnesses who are willing to come to the courthouse and sign an affidavit detailing the Decedent’s family and marital history.
  5. An Attorney Ad Litem will be appointed by the Court. The job of the Attorney Ad Litem is to verify the family history and research any unknown heirs of the Decedent.
  6. A hearing will be held with the following people in attendance:
    1. The person who is applying to be Administrator of the Estate (called the “Applicant”),
    2. The two (2) witnesses who can verify the family and marital history, and
    3. The Attorney Ad Litem.
    The Applicant and the two (2) witnesses will give their testimony regarding the family and marital history of the Decedent.
  7. After listening to the testimony, the Judge will sign a court order determining the heirs of the Estate and an order appointing the Administrator of the Estate.
  8. The Administrator will most likely be required to post a bond, unless it is waived by all of the heirs of the Decedent, and sign an Oath stating he or she will perform the duties of the Administrator.
  9. The Administrator will then be able to obtain Letters of Administration, which are extremely important. The Letters of Administration allow the Administrator to stand in the shoes of the decedent and do whatever the decedent could do. The Administrator will be able to gather the probate assets of the estate and notify creditors of the estate.
  10. Probate Assets consist of assets that have or require a title that needs to be changed(for example, real property, cars, trucks, boats, and stocks), as well as bank accounts that do not have a designated beneficiary or names the estate as the designated beneficiary.
  11. Non-Probate Assets include assets that already have a named beneficiary such as life insurance policies, IRA’s, and joint bank accounts with rights of survivorship.
  12. The Administrator is legally required to send a notice to the creditors of the Estate of the appointment of the Administrator.
  13. Once the Administrator assembles all of the probate assets, the Administrator is required to file an Inventory with the court describing the probate assets owned by the decedent at the time of his death and their respective values as of the date of the decedent’s death.
  14. After the Inventory has been approved by the court, the Administrator should pay the appropriate debts of the estate and then distribute the remaining assets to the heirs of the estate according to the court order signed by the judge.

To discuss the above example or any other questions related to probate, please contact Maverick Law to schedule an initial consultation.

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