Whether you have a simple will and relatively few assets or a large, complex estate, much of the property you own may have to pass through probate before distributing to your beneficiaries.
Generally speaking, probate is the process of validating your will, wrapping up your estate and distributing property to your beneficiaries. If you have appointed a personal representative or executor, he or she may be responsible for guiding assets through probate.
1. Notifying beneficiaries
Once your executor has filed your will with the court, he or she should notify your heirs and named beneficiaries that your estate has entered probate and they may receive part of the estate once the process is complete.
2. Appraising and preserving assets
One of the next tasks for your personal representative is locating, appraising and preserving estate assets. He or she should create an inventory of property, which may include assets ranging from real estate, bank accounts, investments and retirement or life insurance accounts to personal property like vehicles or antique furniture.
3. Handling outstanding debts, expenses
Your representative may also need to track down any estate creditors, fulfill valid debts and file last state and federal tax forms. Additionally, he or she may have to handle final expenses. Final expenses may include recent medical bills, funeral costs or outstanding mortgage payments as well as payments related to the administration of the estate.
Your personal representative may keep your beneficiaries informed during the probate process. However, he or she may only distribute assets after fully settling your estate.