Probate Process Step Three: Initial Documents
March 4, 2014This blog post is part of a series of posts on the probate process. This is the third step. You may start the series with the Initial Attorney Meeting and the Personal Representative’s role.
After you and your attorney have determined the best option for the probate proceeding it is time for the initial documents to be drafted. The documents will vary slightly between an informal and formal proceeding. However, important documents include: the Will (and Codicil, if any), Petition/Application, Acceptance of Personal Representative, Order and Notice of Hearing, and Affidavit of Publication. There may be additional or different documents depending on your situation.
The Petition (formal) or Application (informal) lays out facts about the decedent (date of birth, date of death, address, ect…), names important people (usually family members, and anyone else named in the Will), and lists their probate assets and debts. It is important to get as accurate as possible with the assets and debts, but any changes will be recorded in later documents.
The Acceptance simply states that the (proposed) Personal Representative accepts his/her role and responsibilities. The Order and Notice of hearing is submitted to the court, and the court will fill in the blanks with the date and time of the hearing. However, that not all counties require a hearing depending on the type of administration. It is important to talk with your attorney about what will be expected in the decedent’s county.
Probate proceedings require a Notice be published in legal journals. The Notice must be published a couple of times before the hearing. The Notice is for any potential creditors and other interested parties. The Affidavit of Publication is done by the legal journal and sent either to the attorney or the court directly. If a hearing is required, the court will make sure the Notice has been properly published within the required time period.
The probate process up until this step (meeting with an attorney, gathering information about the decedent’s assets and debts, drafting the initial paperwork, and setting a hearing date) may only take a matter of weeks. It can sometimes take several months in complicated cases. Regardless, it is important to at least have an initial meeting with an attorney to determine the correct course of action.
If you have questions regarding the probate process, please contact Claire Tralle at 612-787-2553 to set up a consultation.