Are you curious what a Probate timeline looks like? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today.
Hi, I’m Brad Van Mill with Fish MLS Realty There are lots of steps in the Probate process, but the timeline can be broken down into three main stages; petition for Probate, administration of the estate, and the closing of the estate. And the first stage is a pre-petition for Probate.
This first stage takes place before your attorney has filed the petition to Probate. Until this first court hearing, there is no executor or personal representative assigned, even if you’re named so in the will.
This means that no one has the legal authority to take any action in regards to the estate. This stage is when the decedent’s documents are gathered up and a petition needs to be filed. In most cases, you’ll need a copy of the death certificate, the original will, if you have one available, and the formal petition forms that are prepared by your attorney.
Typically, the court hearing of the Probate petition is scheduled for several weeks or even months after the initial filing. And during that waiting period, there is no authority for anyone to take any action with the decedent’s estate.
During that waiting period, there’s no authority for anyone to take action with the decedent’s estate such as distributing assets or even signing a listing agreement with a realtor. However, you can ensure to be maintaining the property and selecting your Probate agent during this time.
If you have circumstances that won’t allow you to wait several weeks or months for the scheduled hearing, you can ask your Probate attorney to file an emergency ex parte hearing to ask that you be named the personal representative immediately.
This request may not always be granted, but if you have extenuating circumstances, it definitely might be worth a try, especially if the special circumstances are surrounding the property, like an upcoming foreclosure date.
Second stage, administration of the estate. After the first Probate hearing, the court will grant letters of administration if there is no will, or letters of a testamentary if there is a will. These letters grant the personal representative, the PR, the authority to conduct business for the estate. During this phase, the affairs of the decedent will be conducted in order to settle the estate.
These include things like paying the estate debts, filing the final tax return, selling property, and distributing proceeds according to the terms of the will. The decedent’s debts and credits, things like insurance policy payments generally go through the estate account. Your attorney will advise you on the best way to handle these practices.
To ensure that all of the decedent’s debts and assets are accounted for, you’ll need to do a formal inventory of the estate. This includes everything from property, heirlooms, jewelry, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, insurance policies, everything.
This needs to be done using official forms of the official inventory form from the court.
Your attorney can advise you on the best practices for this but this is a very, very important documentation, as this inventory will become a key record for the courts to make sure everything has been properly accounted for.
Of course, selling the inherited property is the biggest undertaking during this stage. There are different processes depending on what administration rights have been granted to the PR and if the court confirmation is required or not. When a personal representative is granted independent administration rights for the sale, isn’t much different than a typical sale.
The contract and disclosures look a little bit different but the process itself is very comparable to a traditional real estate transaction.
If dependent administration rights are in place, the court confirmation is necessary to close escrow. At the court hearing, your attorney will present an offer that’s been accepted, but the court will not automatically accept that offer. In order to guarantee that the property sells for the highest amount possible, the court opens up the overbid process. This process is kind of similar to an auction and it can be quite intimidating for some people.
It’s best to have a very experienced Probate real estate agent working with you in these situations. The court starts the bidding process at a percentage above the presented offer, and then they will accept the best offer and confirm the sale right there at the hearing. The funds from the sale are deposited into the estate account and your attorney will advise you on this process as well.
Typically, the funds are then used to pay things like debts and taxes and the claims to the creditors that may arise from the previous stage. At the final stage, closing the estate.
After the debts have been paid, the house has been sold, and all of the personal property has been taken care of, a final accounting can be done and it’s time to officially close the estate.
The final accounting is a detailed report that will show the evidence and documentation of all of the legal and financial transactions that took place during the administration of the estate. This report will include the formal inventory, the evidence of debts paid, and the settlement statement from the house sale. Your Probate attorney and real estate agent can assist you in gathering all of the necessary documentation. Your attorney will then file an affidavit requesting that the Probate be closed.
The courts will review all the documentation and if your estate accounting checks out, the court will grant a Probate closure.
At that time, the estate funds are used to pay court costs and attorneys fees, and what’s left will be distributed to the beneficiaries. Many of the fees and costs can be avoided with proper preparation.
That’s why it’s so important to have a living trust. If you’ve inherited assets from this Probate process, I highly recommend you meet with a financial planner and talk to your attorney about preparing a trust on your behalf.
If you can save your loved ones from extending the grief of their loss and compounding the stress and anguish that’s often accompanied with Probate by doing a trust, you absolutely should. We have prepared some excellent resources for you to download, and in the other videos, goes into a little bit more detail about the average Probate timeline here in Minnesota
We have a link in the description to download your own copy of a typical Probate timeline that can visually help you break down the process. If you want to speak to me directly, don’t hesitate to reach out. My contact information is also in the description.
And of course, keep in mind, we’re not lawyers, and this information is not a source of legal advice. We’re just here giving out some information.
If you have specific legal questions, it’s best to talk to your attorney.