What to do When a Loved One Dies: 3 Steps to Prepare for Probate

Dealing with the death of a loved one is always a difficult experience. As devastating as the emotional consequences of your loved one’s passing can be, they are compounded by having to deal with so many practical necessities, especially if you are named executor of their estate. This can be especially true if you have to go through the probate process, which is generally mandatory when dealing with the execution of a will without the presence of a properly-funded trust. Luckily, by working with an experienced lawyer, you can make the process of going through probate court as painless as possible.

What is Probate?

If you’ve never been through the process before, you might find yourself wondering: what is probate? Probate is the legal process by which a person’s will is officially recognized by the court, and an executor is formally recognized. After a person dies, the executor named in the will files paperwork with the probate court, and informs the court of the deceased’s assets and debts. The executor then secures all of the decedent’s assets, and pays any of their outstanding debts or taxes. Finally, the executor distributes the assets to their intended beneficiaries. Although the process can be annoying and time-consuming, working with a good probate lawyer can generally ease many of the potential headaches you might face.

3 Steps to Prepare for Probate

The key to a smooth trip through probate court is good preparation. Here are three steps you should take when your loved one passes on:

  1. Keep Track of Your Expenses on Behalf of the Estate. If you’re the executor of an estate, you may need to pay ongoing expenses on behalf of the estate while the probate process plays out. These may include property taxes, mortgage payments, or other ongoing bills. It is important that you keep a clear record of this spending so that you can be reimbursed. Failure to so can lead to greater complications later.
  2. Refrain from Paying Bills Not Secured by Property. However, it is not always necessary to pay all debts that become due to the estate during this time. If there is not a threat of the property being seized, it may be advisable to simply not pay creditors. The creditors will have a chance during the probate process to make their claim and, if they don’t present a compelling case, you may end up not having to pay the debt at all.
  3. Obtain a Credit Report for the Deceased. No matter how well you know the deceased, you probably don’t have a clear picture of their financial picture. Getting a credit report is a good way to have an instant snapshot of what you’re dealing with. It can also help your estate attorney prepare and put you in a better position before you go to probate court.

Contact the Hailey-Petty Law Firm

The probate process can be intimidating, especially when you’re already dealing with the death of a loved one. However, with an experienced attorney on your side, it doesn’t need to be. The Hailey-Petty Law Firm has years of experience helping clients in the Austin and San Antonio go through probate court. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your through this process.