If you lost a loved one, you are probably wondering what the next steps are. Probate is the legal process that take place to ultimately transfer assets and close the estate.
Probate consists of many steps and is not a short process in most situations. The executor plays a big role in the process.
The probate process
According to the California Courts, there is a court involvement in most situations that involve inheritance or a transfer of property. However, not all assets go through probate.
Once someone files a petition for probate, one of the first things that occur is determining if there is a will and if it is a valid one. Other steps involve contacting the named heirs, determining the estate’s worth, taking care of other financial responsibilities of the estate, transferring assets to heirs and filing taxes for the estate. Depending on the complexity of the estate, probate can drag on for months or even years.
Role of the executor
The will may name someone to manage the estate, in which case the individual is the executor. If the will does not include this, the court names the person, known as the estate administrator. This person has a lot of responsibility throughout the probate process.
According to the Supreme Court of California, County of Santa Clara, some of the various duties the executor has include:
- Locate, appraise and safeguard all named assets
- Collect the decedent’s mail, cancel credit cards, manage online activities and maintain upkeep on any property
- Locate and inform heirs about the will
- Give adequate notice to creditors and pay off credible debts; collect any debts owed to the decedent
- Pay ongoing bills, selling off property if necessary to do so
- File tax returns for the estate and pay any owed taxes
Once there is a settling of all bills and debts, the executor can transfer assets to the appropriate parties. After filing the final tax return, the court should be able to close the estate.