Dealing with the aftermath of a loved one or close friend’s death is overwhelming. Not only are you suffering with heavy emotions, but there are often matters of business to deal with. In addition to planning a funeral, you may have a part in dividing the deceased’s estate. Whether you are the estate administrator or you are simply assisting with the process, it is helpful to understand the probate procedure and what steps are necessary to finalize the estate.

The probate process focuses on dividing the deceased’s property and ensuring it gets to the proper beneficiaries named in the last will and testament. Once the estate owner passes, it is up to the appointed executor to gather up the estate property and assets. If there are expenses and/or debts still owed by the estate, they are paid using the estate’s value. From the time the estate executor gains control of the estate until the property is distributed to beneficiaries, the executor is responsible for taking care of the property and ensuring it is safe from theft and vandalism.

During the probate process, the estate administrator is also responsible for the following:

  • Locating the beneficiaries named in the will
  • Overseeing any property disputes
  • Ensuring the property gets to the rightful heirs

The administrator must have the time available to devote to these tasks, and have the patience and organizational skills necessary to complete the process.

Not all estates must go through the probate process. Some property and assets are transferred directly to beneficiaries through a living trust or if the accounts have another name associated with it on the account.