Probate Law book and wooden gavel in the court.

What is Probate and What Should You Know About It?

Probate is a term you may have heard thrown around but don’t know exactly what it is. Here is a look at the probate process and what the average homeowner should know about it to prepare for the future.

What is Probate? 

Probate is the legal process that occurs when you administer the estate of a deceased person. It involves validating a will if there is one, following the instructions, and paying the necessary taxes. Probate can be a complicated and emotional process and requires the guidance of a professional to navigate successfully. Administering the will of a loved one can be stressful but you must ensure the proper protocols are followed so that the will is executed according to the wishes of the deceased and to prevent the IRS from coming after you.

What is the Probate Process Typically Like? 

The probate process is fairly straightforward. Four basic steps must take place for the estate to be finalized and closed.

  • Step 1: Open Probate– Once the will is located, a petition is filed with the probate court to request that the will be processes
  • Step 2: Assets and Debts Identified– The court will appoint an executor who will take stock of all the assets and debts owed by the deceased and provide a valuation. Assets include things like real estate, vehicles, investments, cash, intellectual property, bank accounts, and more.
  • Step 3: Debt Repayment– The executor of the will then must pay all the debts owed by the estate, such as mortgage payments, credit card debt, utility bills, tax bills, etc.
  • Step 4: Asset Distribution:Once all the debts have been paid, the remaining assets will be distributed according to what is written in the will.

The length of the probate process depends on the complexity of the estate and the distribution of assets. For the average household, it shouldn’t take more than a few months, but in certain circumstances, it may take a year or longer.

Where to Find a Professional Who Understands the Probate Process

Probate Real Estate Agent Denver can help you navigate through the legal process. But if you have a property you need to liquidate, having a real estate agent who understands probate can be a lifesaver. Not every agent is equipped to deal with the complexities of property in probate and you don’t want to further complicate an already stressful situation.