Opening an estate in probate will depend on a number of factors, such as the existence of a Last Will and Testament. The probate process typically begins with the filing of a petition, but whether or not a Will exists can impact how the case proceeds from there.
If you intend to file a Will or otherwise pursue an estate in probate, it is best that you first seek legal counsel for assistance. A practiced attorney could guide you through the complex process and help you avoid damaging mistakes.
Initiating a probate case in Cary generally begins by filing a petition with the Clerk of the Superior Court, regardless of if the decedent had a Last Will and Testament or not. However, which party files this petition will depend on whether there was a Will at the time of their death. If one does exist, the document typically names an executor whose responsibility is to file the Will with the Clerk.
In cases where there is no Will, a person that qualifies to be an administrator may file the application. The same is true in cases where the Will does not name an executor, or the named person is unable or unwilling to serve. Both executors and administrators are known as personal representatives of the estate.
Importantly, the application is not enough on its own to initiate a probate case. In order to begin the probate process, the personal representative must also pay a filing fee to the court and include a series of documents along with their application. If a Will exists, they must file a copy of it with the Clerk. The personal representative must also submit a preliminary inventory of the estate assets along with a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate. An experienced lawyer nearby could help a personal representative gather the necessary documents for opening an estate in probate.
Once the initial application is filed, the court must approve the appointment of the personal representative and provide the required documents to handle the estate’s assets. For executors, these documents are known as “letters testamentary.” For administrators, they are referred to as “letters of administration.” Both of these letters set out the same powers for a personal representative.
The duties of the personal representative begin with a thorough inventory of the estate’s assets. The letters also allow the representative to set up bank accounts to pay out the obligations of the estate, including:
Before the estate can write any checks to the beneficiaries, it must first take care of the other responsibilities of the estate. Once the personal representative provides all notices and pays all claims, they can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. To ensure that all estate obligations are handled effectively and efficiently, a personal representative should consult a dedicated lawyer with experience handling the probate process in Cary.
Whether you are seeking guidance on filing an estate or simply want to better understand your rights in the probate process, a conversation with a legal advisor should be your top priority. The right attorney could advise you on opening an estate in Cary probate and assist with properly administering it. Call today to schedule a meeting with our seasoned legal team.