If your loved one passed away and had a will, it’s important to follow several steps in the probate process, but you may not know where to start.
First, you will need to file the will with the probate court in the county where your deceased loved one resided. If the will named an executor, that person is responsible for administering the estate. If there is no named executor, the court will appoint a person to fill this role.
The executor is responsible for notifying the beneficiaries and creditors. The creditors will have an opportunity to make a claim against the estate for any money that is owed to them, so the executor cannot distribute any funds to the beneficiaries until this is complete, along with paying any outstanding taxes.
The executor must also create a final accounting to file with the court and then can petition to close the estate.
Occasionally, disputes may arise among beneficiaries. They may claim that the will is not valid due to the deceased loved one’s mental capacity to create a will or that they were unduly influenced, for example. Disputes can delay the probate proceedings.
Beneficiaries may also claim that the executor has not managed the estate appropriately or that the executor has a conflict of interest, either by acting in their own interest or favoring one beneficiary over another.
Creditors may dispute how much they are owed from the estate or what priority they should take in line for payment.