The Probate Process for a Formal Administration
1st step The personal representative will file with the Court the following documents: Petition for Administration, Decedent’s Death Certificate, The original last will and testament, Oath of Personal Representative, Oath of Witness to Will (if needed).
2nd step The Court will sign an Order admitting the Will to Probate and Letters of Administration. The Letters of Administration grant the Personal Representative the Authority to act.
3rd step The personal representative shall serve a Notice of Administration on the surviving spouse and beneficiaries. The Notice informs the parties that a probate proceeding is taking place and advises them of their right to object to the appointment of the personal representation and other matters.
4th step The personal representative shall ensure that a Notice to Creditors is formally served on known creditors and that the Notice be published once a week for 2 weeks in a local newspaper. All creditors have 3 months to file a claim or the claim is barred. The time limit to file a claim is 30 days for each creditor provided with formal notice.
5th step Within 60 days of issuance of the letters of administration, the personal representative shall prepare the inventory listing all of the property in the estate.
6th step Assuming all creditor claims are settled, the personal representative pays the creditors and debts of the estate.
7th step The personal representative shall begin to distribute the remaining probate assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the directions in the will.
8th step The Personal representative files and serves on interested person the final accounting and petition for discharge. The final accounting shows all transactions within the probate estate. The Petition for Discharge includes a plan of distribution showing how the estate assets are to be distributed. All objections must be filed within 30 days of the service of the Petition and final accounting.
*This step-by-step guide assumes that no individual has challenged the will or the appointment of the personal representative. This guide also assumes that there have been no disputes over the validity of any creditor claims or any proceedings regarding the determination of beneficiaries or their shares. If any of these type of proceedings do take place, then the probate proceedings typically take much longer to conclude and there are additional legal steps that occur.