If someone dies with assets titled in his or her name alone, those assets cannot pass to his or her heirs without Probate. Probate administration is the legal process of wrapping up a deceased person’s affairs and distributing his or her stuff. The process varies depending on the specific facts of each case (e.g., whether there was a Will, the size of the estate, the family dynamics, etc.).
Generally, with a will the probate process begins by presenting it to Court together with a Petition; a death certificate; a filing fee; and Waivers and Consents signed by all the heirs to signify they agree the Will is authentic, that you should administer it, and they do not plan to contest it. If even one of your heirs does not return the signed documents, the case becomes contested and nothing can move forward without a hearing each step of the way.
In most cases notice is published providing 180 days for any creditors to come forward to establish their claim against the estate.
The Executor must provide the Court with an Inventory of the assets, a family tree, and a proposed distribution of the assets. If any of the heirs do not sign the necessary consents, each step of the process requires a hearing.
Probate administration quickly becomes more complex if the assets are not centralized, the deceased did not have a spouse or child, if the deceased had more than one marriage or children with more than one partner, or if any of the heirs are under 18 or legally incapacitated.
Without a Will
If someone dies without a Will, the process is similar, but the State decides who gets the deceased’s assets based on the family tree.
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