Understanding the probate process when there is a will

If someone dies with a will, the estate goes through probate. If you are a close family member, you may be wondering what steps you need to take.

Although you may be the one who needs to file for probate, the judge oversees the process, and a personal representative does the majority of the work.

Basics of probate

According to the Florida Bar, the person who files the probate papers is the individual who is the custodian of the will, and he or she must file within 10 days of the death. A circuit court judge supervises the legal process of probate. If the will names a personal representative, the judge will ensure this person is eligible to perform the duties. If the will did not name someone, the judge will appoint a personal representative.

Role of the personal representative

According to FindLaw, a personal representative is responsible for managing the decedent’s estate and distributing assets as directed by the will. In regard to estate management, the representative must maintain upkeep of the properties, which may include taking out the garbage, finding homes for pets, hiring groundskeepers and housekeepers and collecting mail.

The representative needs to pay incoming bills, cancel credit cards and set up a separate bank account for the estate. He or she must inform creditors of the death and pay any debts the decedent owes. The representative must also file and pay taxes for the estate.

The personal representative needs to locate, valuate and secure all assets included in the will. He or she must also inform heirs and beneficiaries. After paying all necessary bills, the representative can then distribute assets to the named beneficiaries.