What Are The Steps To Estate Probate?

An attorney retained by the deceased’s estate executor files with the local Probate Court to distribute the deceased’s assets. If no will is found, the deceased relatives retain an attorney to petition the Probate Court for distribution of the deceased’s assets to the heirs according to the state’s law of intestate succession. However, if the deceased left no will, and no heirs can be located, the state will receive the assets by escheat!
The probate court appoints the executor named in the deceased’s will (if no will was found, the court appoints an estate “administrator”) to collect and distribute the estate assets, after paying any creditors who submit claims. Executors and administrators should question all claims submitted because some may be bogus. Unless waived in the will, a bond must be posted by the executor or administrator, thus adding to the estate’s expenses. If there is not enough cash in the estate, then the estate assets, if any, must be sold to pay the creditor claims.
The estate executor or administrator must inventory the deceased’s assets and may be required to have them appraised for fair market value. The cost of hiring appraisers is an extra expense to be paid by the estate. The Probate Court will approve payment of creditor and hear any arguments by the executor or administrator against paying disputed claims. Sometimes, assets must be sold either to pay estate or income taxes or creditor claims. Real estate that either must be sold or can be sold should be listed for sale with a professional real estate agent; some realtors specialize in probate listings and become experts in selling this type of property. State and federal income tax returns for the deceased’s last tax year, plus any federal estate and State Inheritance Tax Returns must be filed by the estate executor or administrator, and “waivers” of the tax liability must be issues by the state Division of Taxation or an appropriate escrow must be established until the “waiver” is issued. Finally, after “waivers” are obtained, the remaining assets may be distributed to the estate beneficiaries as per the will or pursuant to the statute as required.

Tarta Law Firm NJSteven W. Tarta, Esq. brings more than 45 years of professional experience to his practice, with a sophisticated focus on Estate Tax Planning, Living Trusts and Elder Law.

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