After a person dies, his or her estate will go through the process of probate administration. This is the official settling and distribution of the estate which is done under court supervision. Proper protocol must be followed in the probate administration process and, if you have never dealt with it before, it can seem confusing and time consuming. If you have any questions about wills or the probate process, contact Oklahoma attorney Kristin R. Drake. Attorney Drake offers trusts and estate packages at an affordable rate to her clients.
What Happens During Probate Administration?
The probate administration process begins when the spouse or family member of the deceased files the will in the District Court for the county where the deceased, referred to as the “decedent” lived. A Petition for Probate must also be filed. The Petition request the appointment of a Personal Representative, also referred to as the “executor.” The will itself may list who should be executor, or, if there is no will, the court will appoint someone to serve. The court will then issue “Letters Testamentary” to the executor which gives the executor legal authority to act on the estate’s behalf.
It is then required that Notice of Probate be published in a newspaper where the decedent lived. This puts creditors on notice to make a claim with the estate. Creditors have two months to make a claim against the estate.
The executor has several important tasks in relation to probate administration. One of which is to make an inventory of the estate that must be filed with the court within two months of being appointed as executor. The executor must also value the estate assets. Not all assets of the deceased will go through probate and need to be inventoried. Things like life insurance, 401k, or pay on death accounts will already have beneficiaries listed and will pass directly to the stated beneficiary.
Additionally, the executor must pay any outstanding bills, including income tax. In many cases, an estate tax return must also be filed. Taxes must be filed in a timely fashion to avoid harsh IRS penalties. After all bills and taxes have been paid, the executor will file a Petition to Close the Probate with the court. In response to the Petition, the court will issue an order which will distribute the property of the estate to all beneficiaries.
The probate administration process can be costly and time consuming. The more complicated the issues associated with the estate, the longer it will take for things to be settled.
Estate Planning to Make the Probate Administration Process Easier on Your Loved Ones.
One of the best ways to make the probate administration process faster and simpler is to plan. A well-drafted will can make things so much easier on your loved ones. It is difficult enough to lose a loved one. To have to go through a lengthy and contentions probate process can be too much. Contact Oklahoma Attorney Kristin R. Drake to get estate planning documents in place to make things easier on your loved ones later on.