Filing a Probate InventoryThe Paralegal Resource
January 15, 2013 — 1,307 views
A probate is the legal process of establishing the validity of the will of a deceased person in a court of law. Through this process, the assets of a dead person are administered. If the person has died without a will, then the court employs a Personal Representative to dispense the person’s assets according to hereditary succession.
When is a Probate Required?
If the decedent used to own a private property that was solely in his/her name or if it is a shared property which was jointly owned, a probate is necessary and the court might choose to appoint a Personal Representative to settle the case.
If the decedent does not have any real estate assets but a property that is worth $20,000 or more, a probate is required, even if the decedent has left a will. But if the total property owned by the decedent is less than that of $20,000, then no probate is required.
The Process of Probate Inventory Filing
The first step is to identify the beneficiaries of the will and the creditors of the decedent, and appoint a Personal Representative.
The second step is to identify the assets of the decedent, evaluate them, and prepare them for distribution. This step is also called “marshalling of assets”. The more orderly the decedent has been, the easier the probate process is.
The third step is to identify the liabilities of the decedent and preserve mortgaged property. Any last expenses must be paid from the decedent’s estate.
The fourth step is to distribute all the marshaled property. If there is a will, the distribution would not be difficult as the recipients would be clearly marked on the will itself. However, problems may come up if the will refers to property that cannot be located or is mortgaged.
The fifth step is to settle the claims from the creditors. Claims directly on the assets would reduce the distributable property. The final step is to close the estate of the decedent. This requires an order from the court. Such an order can be obtained after showing proper accounts of having settled all claims from the creditors, payments of taxes, and proper distribution of the assets of the decedent.
What a Probate Paralegal Should Know
A probate paralegal should always keep in mind that the court will be overseeing the process and the paralegal would be responsible for categorizing the assets and preparing the asset inventory. As such, the paralegal should always be firm in taking the sole responsibility of all the documents about the income and expenses of the assets, such as bills and checks. This will also help in preparing the final account reports. The paralegal should also prepare the Inventory and Appraisal form. He is also responsible for the transfer and documentation of any mortgaged property that is eligible for distribution.
The probate process involves quite a few steps which may vary among different jurisdictions. Legal issues may arise at any stage. The probate paralegal needs to look up cases on how best to resolve these issues. He may also be required to look into whether the will is valid and then present the findings to the probate attorney.