Introduction to Probate and the Administration of an Estate

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Receipt of probate is the first step in the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person's property under a Will. The emotional trauma brought on by the death of a close family member is often accompanied by bewilderment concerning the legal steps necessary to probate and administer an estate.  

These responsibilities ultimately fall on the person appointed as Executor in the deceased family member's Will.  Although not specifically stated, many of these steps are taken only after consultation with the attorney representing the estate.

These responsibilities include: 

  • Locating and analyzing the Will
  • Opening the estate
  • Gathering and Safeguarding assets
  • Life insurance, annuities, retirement benefits and Social Security
  • Debts of decedent, and claims against the estate
  • Income and inheritance (or "death") taxes
  • Final settlement of estate 

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