The Probate Process – Probate and Estate Research

Probate takes place after someone dies. The purpose of the probate legal process is to prevent fraud after someone’s death.  It’s a way to freeze the estate until a probate judge determines that the Will is valid, that all the relevant people have been notified, that all the property in the estate has been identified and appraised, that any creditors and taxes have been paid. The probate process is initiated in the county of the decedent’s legal residence at death. If the estate is intestate (with no valid Will), the court determines who should receive the decedent’s property. Then the probate court issues an Order to distribute the inheritance assets, and the estate is closed.

Probate Process Timeline

As shown below, the probate process usually takes anywhere from 9 - 24 months.
1. Prepare & File Petition for Probate — [1-2 months]
2. Court Hearing on Petition for Probate — [2-3 months]
3. Letters of Administration, Orders for Probate, Duties and Liabilities — [2-4 months]
4. Issue Bond (if ordered) — [2-4 months]
5. Notice to Creditors — [2-4 months]
6. Notice to Dept. of Health Services — [4-8 months]
7. Pay State & Federal Taxes (if necessary) — [6-12 months]
8. Allow or Reject Creditor Claims — [6-12 months]
9. Possible Preliminary Inheritance Distributions during Probate — [6-12 months]
10. Notice to Dept. of Health Services (if deceased received medical) — [6-12 months]
11. Notice to Franchise Tax Board (if heir is out of state) — [6-12 months]
12. Claim of Exemption (if assets transfer to a minor) — [6-14 months]
13. Tax Clearance Letters — [7-15 months]
14. File Petition for Final Distribution & Accounting — [8-16 months]
15. Hearing on Petition for Final Distribution & Accounting — [8-16 months]
16. Order Approving Final Distribution & Accounting — [8-16 months]
17. Distribution of Assets to Heirs — [9-17 months]>
18. Final Discharge Order — [9-18 months]
19. Final Distribution of Funds to Heirs/Beneficiaries — [9-18 months]

What is probate and why is it necessary?

Heir locator firms, or heir location services, help people by locating rightful heirs or unclaimed heirs, as well as tracing and locating a missing inheritance or unclaimed inheritance. These people may be unaware that they are entitled to receive an unclaimed inheritance from an estate. Without our heir location services and missing inheritance services, many rightful heirs would never even know they had an unclaimed inheritance coming to them, and many unclaimed inheritance assets would, unfortunately, eventually become government property. Taking on a missing inheritance, unclaimed inheritance, or missing heir claim on your own -- proving your own inheritance claim -- can be a lengthy, difficult and often expensive task. And often result in a lot of wasted time. You can repair your own car, or even represent yourself in court, however, some jobs are best left to professionals – in this case, professional probate researchers and genealogists, or genealogical researchers. When Heir Finder takes on your missing inheritance or unclaimed inheritance case, all the probate research and related work is done for you… guaranteeing speed, efficiency and a lack of wasted time, effort and money. That is exactly why Heir Finder is recommended by Estate Planning attorneys and Probate attorneys all over America. Fees associated with our heir location services are owed only when there is a successful outcome, and when the estate distributes formerly unclaimed inheritance assets or formerly missing inheritance assets to the heirs. If there is no recovery of missing inheritance assets, there is nothing owed.

Who is in charge of supervising the probate process?

A probate judge oversees the probate process, and a personal representative is in charge of managing details, and the month to month progress of the estate going through probate. Generally, a personal representative (frequently called an “executor”) is named in the decedent’s will. If there is no valid will to name an executor and no one volunteers, the court will appoint a person to take on that role. The probate court usually appoints a person or an organization with a large stake in the outcome of the estate, such as a surviving spouse, a beneficiary, or a representative from a bank or trust company. A personal representative performs many important probate duties. For example, a personal representative will:
  1. Identify, collect and determine the value of assets;
  2. Pay off taxes & outstanding debts that may be owed;
  3. Distribute remaining assets in the estate to heirs
  4. .
Personal representative or executor responsibilities are usually time-consuming and demanding. The personal representative, or “PR” is legally bound to administer the estate according to state law, and will be held liable to beneficiaries if the estate is mis-managed or managed dishonestly. Every state in the United States has its’ set of intestate succession laws that control the probate courts in that state.