How to Probate an Estate

Generally speaking, there are three steps in every Probate proceeding:-

  1. the opening;
  1. the notice to creditors and estate administration; and
  1. the closing.


A Probate is opened by filing a petition in the Probate Court to have the deceased’s Last Will validated and to have an Executor appointed to administer the deceased’s estate. Where it is intended that the Probate is to be formal (supervised by the court), there will be a brief hearing before the Probate Court. However, if the estate is suitable for informal (unsupervised) Probate no hearing is required.

The next stage is to publish a notice in a local newspaper calling for creditors to present their claims to the Executor within a specific time frame. If the creditors fail to present their claims, the claims become statute barred and are unenforceable against the deceased’s estate. During this notice period, the executor will be busy collecting in the assets of the estate and managing them.

Once the creditor’s notice period has expired and the creditors' claims have been paid and the estate has been fully administered, the Executor will close off the estate by filing the necessary documents with the Probate court. Once this is done, the Executor will distribute the deceased’s estate to the beneficiaries named in the deceased’s Last Will or, where no Last Will is made, to the deceased’s heirs in accordance with state intestacy laws. In the same way as the opening, the closing can be formal or informal. Similarly, where there is a formal closing, a court hearing will be required. If, on the other hand, the closing is informal, no hearing will be required.


For more information on probate, see some of the other articles on executors and probate of an estate on this website.



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Executors Guide to Probate

How To Probate An Estate - A Step-By-Step Guide for Executors


This book is essential reading for anyone contemplating acting as an executor of someone’s estate! Learn about the various stages of probate and what an executor needs to do at each stage to successfully navigate his way through to closing the estate and distributing the deceased’s assets.

Published December 2010

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