With the death of a loved one, you are already dealing with more than you feel capable of. Now, you have just been told that your house is going into probate. If you don’t understand the process of probate, you might be feeling even more overwhelmed. Here are some of the basic facts.
Probate is the legal process in which estate assets are reviewed, and inheritors are determined. If there is a will, it will be legally reviewed for authenticity and the executor named in the will will administer the probate. The executor will determine the worth of the assets, pay the taxes and debt owed on the estate, and receive court authorization to distribute remaining assets to the beneficiaries. If there is no will, there will be a court-appointed executor. The executor must find the legal heirs of the deceased, such as the spouse and children. It is then up to the probate court to determine how the assets will be distributed. Typically, the distribution starts with a surviving spouse, with children following if the deceased is divorced or widowed.
Normally, you can stay in the home during probate if you lived there at the time of the owner’s death. However, you may have to get permission from the executor. This arrangement could be temporary, as it will be conditioned upon the ruling of the probate court. If you are not given sole possession of the property, you will have to move out so that the estate can be sold and distributed. While you live in the home, the executor will likely expect you to keep the home maintained and paid for. However, it is the responsibility of the executor to ensure that these things are done.
If the home is vacant and you are the executor, it is your responsibility to care for the home until it is sold. You must keep the lawn mowed in the warmer months. During winter, you are charged with snow removal and preventing the pipes from bursting. You should also clean the gutters. It is important that no value is lost during the time of probate. To keep an empty house secure, cancel newspaper subscriptions, put outdoor lights on a timer, and ask a neighbor to collect any mail and check on the house each week. You can rid yourself of this burden more quickly by seeking out a cash buyer.
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