6 Basic Steps to Probate
1. Filing the Will and petition at the probate court in order to be appointed executor or personal representative. In the absence of a Will, we will petition the court on behalf of heirs to be appointed "administrator" of the estate.
2. Marshaling or collecting the assets.
This means that you have to find out everything the deceased owned. You need to file a list, known as an "inventory," with the probate court. It's generally best to consolidate all the estate funds to the extent possible. Bills and bequests should be paid from a single checking account, either one you establish or even better, one that we set up as your attorney so that we and you can keep track of all expenditures.
3. Taxes, taxes, taxes. If a state or federal estate tax return is needed it must be filed within nine months of the date of death. If you miss this deadline and the estate is taxable, severe penalties and interest may apply. If you do not have all the information available in time, we can file for an extension and pay your best estimate of the tax due.
4. Filing tax returns. A final income tax return for the decedent must be filed and, if the estate holds any assets and earns interest or dividends, an income tax return for the estate as well. If the estate does earn income during the administration process, it will have to obtain its own tax identification number in order to keep track of such earnings. Our probate attorneys are well versed in the latest probate tax issues.
5. Distributing property to the heirs and legatees. Generally, executors do not pay out all of the estate assets until the period runs out for creditors to make claims, which can be as long as a year after the date of death. But once the executor understands the estate and the likely claims, he or she can distribute most of the assets, retaining a reserve for unanticipated claims and the costs of closing out the estate.
6. Filing a final account. The executor must file an account with the probate court listing any income to the estate since the date of death and all expenses and estate distributions. Once the court approves this final account, the executor can distribute whatever is left in the closing reserve, and finish his or her work. We have the experience to make every step of the probate process less burdensome for our clients so they can arrive at the final accountings with a sense of ease.
Removing the burden for an executor and family.
We are proud of our reputation in helping those in need especially around a time of grief. We have provided relief and comfort for countless families while expediting the process and clarifying the 'legalese' for our clients.
Whether it's a probate or non-probate estate each client gets the personal attention they need to make the process less of a burden. Feel free to call us for more information or email me personally at braphan @raphanlaw.com.
-Brian A. Raphan
"Brian Raphan and his associates are smart, trustworthy, and super reliable.
This team took excellent care of me and I always felt secure in their hands. You cannot get better care anywhere.
If you need smart hardworking professionals with hearts then this is your team. I highly recommend."