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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Apr 14, 2016

Probate is the legal process of transferring a person’s property and resolving their debts after their death. Probates are handled by the state’s probate court and typically involve four steps: swearing in a representative, notifying heirs, creditors and the public, inventorying the property and distributing the estate.

Swearing in a representative

last will and testament for probateThis person is usually named in the will and is the one designated to be in charge of the estate. If there is no designated representative the court will choose one. A family member may request to be the representative. After a representative is appointed they will be given a certified document called the Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary by the court and will formally swear the representative into the position.

The representative then files a petition with the probate court and this starts the probate process.

Notifying heirs, creditors and the public

The representative may now send a notice to any creditors or persons who may be interested in the estate. They may also publish a notice in the local paper in order to notify anyone who may be interested in the estate.

Inventorying the property

The representative is then responsible for getting an appraiser to take an inventory of all of the descendant’s property including real property, stocks, bonds, business interests, and any other assets. They must also notify all owed creditors of how much the inventory is worth.

Distributing the estate

Once all of the inventory is accounted for, the representative is in charge of using the estate to pay off all the descendant’s debts, taxes and other final bills. Sometimes the representative must sell the estate’s assets to satisfy debts.

After all bills are paid off, the rest of the estate will be distributed to the beneficiaries and heirs named in the will.