What Happens at a Probate Hearing?
The time immediately following the death of a loved one is difficult. In addition to the normal grieving process, there are other logistical issues that need to be dealt with, including commencing the probate process. Most people are intimidated by any court proceeding, but the initial probate hearing is a straight forward process. Understanding what to expect from the first probate hearing can help relieve stress associated with the probate process and allow litigants to focus on the other, more important issues associated with saying goodbye to a loved friend or family member.
Once a petition to probate an estate is filed, the court will issue an order setting a hearing. Any interested party will receive notice of the hearing. “Interested party" includes the personal representative, any heirs of the deceased, all creditors, and anyone specifically named in the will.
Accordingly, any of these people or the representatives may choose to appear at the probate hearing. The first step taken at the hearing is for the court to take some basic testimony from the proposed personal representative. This testimony typically centers around the information contained in the initial petition that was filed requesting that the will be probated
Any additional information that will aid the court in making the decision on whether it should approve the estate may also be taken, including the identity of the deceased, the relationship between the deceased and the proposed personal representative, and the reason the estate needs to be probated. After the judge decides to permit the petition to probate the estate, the court will enter an order that appoints the personal representative to actually administer the estate.
The court will then issue Letters Testamentary.
These will allow the personal representative to carry out his or her duties in probating the estate. The personal representative should obtain a certified copy of the Letters Testamentary so that he or she can demonstrate the necessary legal authority to handle the estate.
It is important to note that many courts have specific local rules concerning probate hearings. These rules often discuss issues such as when and how a probate hearing will be held. Regardless of local rules, however, the basic reason and content of the initial probate hearing remains the same.
The court process can be complicated and if you are trying to probate the will of a loved one, you need an experienced attorney to help you navigate it. We have extensive experienced helping clients with these issues. Contact us today and let us answer your questions about probate.
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