There are many reasons for probating an estate — to protect assets, to temporarily halt asset distribution, etc, but whatever the reason, there are a few essential pieces of information that your lawyer will need from you before the probate can take effect.
Consider this your essential estate-probation checklist.
- The Decedent’s full name and age, residence at time of death, date of death, place of death, and birth date.
- A copy of the decedent’s death certificate if it is available
- The full name, address, age, and telephone numbers of all petitioners (persons seeking to open probate proceedings)
- Original copy of the decedent’s will or a statement explaining the efforts to locate said will and the reasons for believing that the decedent died without one in place.
- List of real property owned by the decedent which also specifies location and approximate value.
- A complete list of all of the decedent’s heirs (blood relatives) including, but not limited to: children, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. as well as a list of any relatives who have predeceased the decedent. If you have access to them, the death certificates of these deceased relatives will also be helpful in speeding up the probation process.
- A list of secured debts (mortgages and other loans) owned by the decedent at time of death, as well as the property identification securing this debt.
- List of property owned by the decedent in all jurisdictions. This may include stocks and bonds, retirement assets, bank accounts, and savings.
- A list of unsecured debts, included by not limited to: credit cards, bank credit lines, etc.
- A list (if known) of final expenses and funeral expenses and identification of the payee and payer.
- The names and addresses of known creditors of the decedent.
- If the decedent has died locally, but with no in-town family members, you must provide names and addresses of said family members, as well as any other applicable contact information.
The Results of A Probate
If the decedent has died with no will, or if you are otherwise concerned about the protection and distribution of the decedent’s property and assets, probate is a logical step. You should know, however, that probate can freeze all decedent assets for several months or even years, and that the court will likely appoint an outside party-known as a personal representative, to supervise and control dispersal of the decedent’s assets and property.
For details specific to your situation, you should make an appointment with your attorney and/or personal financial planner to learn more.