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What usually happens during the process of probate?

It is only after someone's death that the process of actually settling their estate and distributing their assets can begin. For most beneficiaries, this means that their family member's estate documents will need to go through probate. But to many Florida residents, the process of probate can sound very mysterious. So what exactly happens during the process of probate?

The first procedure that takes place during probate is that the court will validate the will of the testator. This is a very important because without a valid will, probate can become a more difficult process, since the court must then try to fairly settle the testator's estate without having clear direction from the testator. Having a valid will helps guide the probate process.

Another step in the probate process is finding all of the testator's assets and identifying all of the testator's creditors. During probate, it usually is the executor of the estate that notifies the court of the location for all of the testator's assets and the executor will need to provide proof of the assets to the court. The executor will also provide the court with a list of creditors. The court may then ask the executor to publish a death notice in a local newspaper in order to see if there are any additional creditors.

A probate court can also instruct an executor to pay the final income taxes for the estate. The court can then instruct the executor to pay for any estate taxes that may be due. The executor can use estate assets to pay for these taxes which must be paid within a certain period of time.

A probate court can then instruct the executor to distribute the estate's remaining assets to the beneficiaries. However, any Florida resident who is considering developing an estate plan may want to speak to an estate planning attorney in order to learn about other steps that a probate court may take.

Source: wills.about.com, "What is probate?", Accessed August 13, 2016

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