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What Is the Probate Process?

The loss of a loved one doesn’t only come with strong emotions – it is also a time when family members need to make legal and financial arrangements, like probate. Probate is a court process in which a deceased person’s property is passed to the heirs and beneficiaries listed in their will. In most cases, probate can take up to a year, depending on the size and complexity of the estate.

Going through probate isn’t an easy process, especially while grieving the loss of a loved one. To help you through the complexities, our Rockford estate planning attorneys explain the steps of the probate process.

Authenticating the Last Will & Testament

The person in possession of the deceased’s will is responsible for filing it with the probate court as soon as reasonably possible. That person should also petition to open probate of the state, along with the death certificate. To confirm that the will filed is valid, the court may request a hearing. All beneficiaries will be required to attend the hearing.

Appointing a Probate Executor

The judge will then appoint an executor or administrator to oversee the entire probate process and settle the estate. In most cases, the deceased person will list the individual they will want to oversee the probate process.

Locating the Decedent's Assets & Determining Values

The appointed executor will be required to locate and take possession of all the decedent’s assets to ensure that they are safeguarded during the probate process. They will also be required to identify the value of the assets left behind. This can be a complex process since some people may possess the deceased’s assets and told no one about them, or some assets might not have been mentioned in the will.

The executor will be required to “hunt” for the items and review insurance policies, tax returns, and other documentation to make sure everything is in order.

Notifying Creditors & Paying Off Debts

The executor will also be responsible for notifying creditors of the individual’s death and will be required to pay off their debts. This process can also be tedious because they will need to review the person’s financial records to ensure every aspect is covered.

Distribution of Estate

When all these steps have been completed, the executor can petition the court for permission to distribute what is left of the decedent's assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.

The probate process is long and complicated. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through it alone. Contact our Rockford probate attorneys today at (800) 639-1488 to schedule a consultation!

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