What is probate?
Probate. Just the word strikes fear into the hearts of most people.
But just what is probate and why do people want to avoid it?
Technically, probate is the process of validating a Will and admitting it. That doesn’t sound so bad. However, it’s the part of the process known as estate administration that is the long, hard part.
Once the Will is validated and admitted, then the estate must be administered. This administration includes inventory, valuation, sales, paying off creditors, and distributing anything that is left.
The process in Arkansas goes something like this… An interested party applies to the court to appoint a representative to oversee settling the estate. What is an interested party? That is somebody receiving under the Will or a creditor. If there isn’t a Will, then state law determines who an interested party is. Usually it is the spouse or children.
Once the personal representative is appointed and accepts the appointment the hard part starts. The property must be inventoried, appraised, sold, distributed, etc. All money needs to be gathered up and put into an estate account.
All outstanding bills and final expenses must be paid. All attorney fees get paid off the top.
The probate is advertised in the newspaper, starting a 6 month waiting period for creditors to make claims.
My checklist has about 100 items on it for a typical probate and administration.