When a loved one dies, you tend to have a lot going on at once. This is especially true if you lose your spouse and are in the middle-income bracket because you have likely purchased a home, set up retirement accounts and added other assets to your portfolio, resulting in probate requirements.
Therefore, you as the estate administrator should understand your responsibilities in the probate process.
Check the probate deadline and any deadlines for notifying life insurance companies. Then, file a probate petition in the county where the deceased died.
Catalog the assets
Gather and catalog the probate assets, including real estate. Collect any insurance, bank account and other financial account information. Gather property deeds, vehicle titles and ownership papers for other assets, including artwork, jewelry, etc. Check these papers for co-owners. Get appraisals for any asset that does not have a co-owner.
Address the bills
Collect the deceased’s bills. Notify the creditors of the account holder’s death. Complete and pay federal taxes. Then, set up a checking account and EIN for the estate so you can pay the bills and distribute any cash assets. Pay the bills and taxes before any distributions occur.
Distribute the assets
If a will is available, the estate executor or administrator can use it to distribute the assets. Work with the heirs during the distribution process. If no will is available, a probate court judge will likely need to distribute or agree to the distribution you and the other heirs negotiated.
Submit a certificate of filing will, probate petition, creditor notices, bond or waiver, list of heirs, asset inventory and appraisals, accounting records, beneficiary notices, probate closing and liability release to the probate court.
Prepare to spend up to a year or more on the probate process.