When a person dies, I like to think that their soul goes to heaven but their property and debt stay here on earth. For this reason, we have the Probate Court. There is a Probate Court in every county in every state in the country. This is because when we pass, we leave assets and debt in our name. The Probate Court is part of the Circuit Court of each county. The court operates under a set of standard legal rules know as EPIC. The Probate Process is time consuming and expensive. A typical estate takes 6-14 months and involves probate fees, filing fees, inventory fees, publication fees and Attorney fees, which can cost 4-8% of your estate.
After you pass, your Will is filed with the Probate Court (if you have one, otherwise, the state has one for you) along with certain documents to start the probate process. Your estate’s attorney runs the case in court and your Personal Representative does the “leg work” outside of court. There are two types of full administration of a decedent’s estate. Supervised Administration requires the review and approval of the activities of the estate by the Probate Court. Independent Administration does not have the intervention of the Probate Court unless requested by an interested person or the Personal Representative is bound to carry out the administration of the estate from its inception through distribution of the assets to your heirs and closing the estate.
Prompt action and experience are necessary to preserve the assets of the estate and protect the right of the beneficiaries. It is also necessary to obtain the original Will.