Probate is the legal process by which a will is validated and its terms carried out. Most people would prefer to avoid probate because it requires filing documents with the court, including an accounting of the deceased’s assets and liabilities. Moreover, the probate judge will oversee the process and make sure that it has been followed.
Probate is officially opened when the will and application are filed with the probate court in the county either where the deceased lived or had property. The filing must take place within a reasonable time after the decedent’s death. The application includes the formal appointment of the personal representative. When formally appointed, the personal representative will receive formal authorization from the court that can be used to gather the assets and identify the debts of the estate.
Probate closes when all assets, debts, and heirs have been identified and a plan for payment and distribution has been executed. A request to close probate is filed with the court and if granted, probate is completed.
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