When the owner of a property dies, a legal procedure is carried out through which the beneficiaries legally obtain the property. This legal procedure is called probate and it makes sure that the property gets rightfully divided among heirs.
In most probate house sale cases, where no will is present, the court assigns legal ownership to a relative who then becomes responsible for all the legal happenings that follow with the property.
The probate laws vary from state to state though many have adopted the “Uniform Probate Code”
Let’s learn more about probate and what happens if a house enters a probate procedure.
What Happens in the Probate Process?
The entire probate process needs to be dealt with before it gets legally transferred to you. The will of the deceased lists an executor who will be responsible for putting the property through the probate process.
If you are the executor, generally, probate goes through a process such as this:
Contact a Probate Attorney
First, you need to connect to a probate lawyer who will be an integral part of the probate process. He will help you and represent you as the will goes through the probate. The attorney will conduct things like: file documents with the court, solve income tax issues and much more. He will also be a general advisor throughout the probate process.
File a Petition
Now, you need to file a petition with the local court to start off the probate process. The court office must be local and if you stay outside the state you need to learn about the local probate laws and confirm if you can lead the process.
Along with this, you’ll also need to inform the heirs and beneficiaries that you are petitioning for probate. Also, you will need to provide the beneficiaries the court date of the legal hearings.
Take Inventory of the Estate
Next, you’ll take the inventory of the estate. This means you’ll gather all the important documents and information, which may include:
- Estate planning documents such as will, power of attorney, burial and funeral arrangements, etc.
- Assets such as bonds, deeds, cars, life insurance, etc.
The documents you’ll need to collect inventory will vary with the state. So, you must always check your state laws and always consult with your probate lawyer and collect all the proper documents.
Notify the Creditors
Once you get your hands on the inventory of the estate, you’ll need to inform all the creditors to whom the deceased owes money. After you get in touch with the creditors, you need to pay their claims with money coming from the estate. You might also need to pay off other debts such as personal loans with the estate.
Manage IT Returns
Next, you also need to file income tax returns which include paying off any inheritance taxes due.
After this, when all the creditors are paid, you’ll need to put forward a petition to the court to transfer the assets to the beneficiaries of the estate.
How Long Does the Probate Take?
How long a probate process will take depends on the estate and the will. If a will is present, the probate process might get shorter and easier. This is because the will has already allotted the assets to beneficiaries.
In the absence of a will, a probate process can take from months to years. The time probate takes also depends on state laws. If the estate is small it might take a few months or if the estate is huge, it can take more than a year.
Thus, you always need to check the local state laws and make sure you file for probate in time.
Thus, you see probate is a legal procedure and if you are the attorney of an estate it is a lot to take care of before the process gets over. A probate house sale always comprises a lot of things and contacting a probate attorney is the best way to deal with the entire process. He or she will guide you throughout the process and you can safely depend on him/her who will be your best ally in the entire probate process.