After your loved one passes away, the legal processes that follow can be confusing. Dealing with probate can be a long process. But most don’t know what probate is and how the process goes.

Probate occurs after someone’s death. It ensures that the heirs are getting what the will states and the deceased’s wishes are fulfilled. With smaller estates, the process will be quick. With larger estates, the process could take years. The process includes five major steps:

Proving a valid will for the deceased

The first step in the probate process is to prove the decedent’s death. The death certificate will serve as proof. After the death has been established, the next step is to prove that the decedent has a will. If the decedent has a will, the executor must present the will to a judge. If there is no will, a probate court must decide how to distribute the assets and appoint an administrator.

Listing the deceased’s property.

After a person’s death, an executor or administrator must take an inventory of the deceased’s property. This allows for the executor to see exactly what the deceased’s assets are and how big the estate is.

Getting the property assessed

After the property has been inventoried, the executor must manage the assets. They must have the property appraised. Knowing the value of the property will help when the courts determine the beneficiary’s share of the estate.

Paying the deceased’s debts and taxes

It’s an executor or administrator’s job to pay the debts and taxes of the decedent. Assets from the estate are used to pay these outstanding debts.

Distributing the property

After all debts and taxes have been paid, the executor will then distribute assets according to the will. If there is no will, the administrator appointed are distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs. The beneficiaries then determine what to do with the remaining property. This could be transferring the property to family or selling it all together.

Although probate can be a long process, it’s an important one. It ensures that the property and outstanding debts are handled correctly.