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Leading an estate through probate

When a loved one dies and you become the executor of the estate, you may feel unprepared and overwhelmed by the responsibilities that you face. Going through probate does not have to be as difficult as you might think. There is a process to follow and as long as you remain organized and act with the duty that you owe to your late loved one, probate should be fairly straightforward.

Collect all relevant documents

The first step to take is to collect all of the relevant documents. This will include a last will, funeral instructions, and any other legal papers that the deceased person has left.

Open the estate for probate

Once all documents have been collected, you can then start a probate administration petition. You should do this through the probate court.

Valuation

There will then be a valuation of all of the deceased person's assets. This should be conducted by a professional appraiser. When this has been done, final bills can be paid as well as administration costs.

Finalize taxes

Once all bills have been paid, the process then requires that all income taxes and additional taxes are settled. There will also need to be a final income tax return submitted.

Distribution of assets

The final step of probate is to then distribute all assets in accordance with the will or trust that was left. Once this has been done, you should formally terminate the probate.

As an executor of an estate, you should take the time to research all steps in the probate process, and seek assistance if you are feeling uncertain about any aspect.

Source: The Balance, "How to Probate an Estate Step-by-Step," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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