How does probate work when there’s a will?

A will maps out who is going to be in charge and who receives what. Commonly the oldest child is the executor and everything goes equally to the children, including the executor.

When it comes to a probate with a will, we have to have the original will to give to the court. If we don’t have the original, then we need to go through the process of proving to the court that we can’t find it. They need to know that information and will not let you use the will if you cannot bring the original.

Once a person is appointed executor, then the process becomes as if there was no will in the sense that we still have to get appointed, give notices required by law to all the creditors and government agencies, liquidate any assets (selling the home and making sure the mortgage is paid off) and then waiting out the process and transferring everything at the end. This process usually takes about 10 months for us and a year and a half statewide.

We try to make it as easy as we can and not make anyone go to court. Often, if someone is in a difficult financial situation, we petition the court to give him or her a preliminary distribution, or money upfront. We ultimately want families to stay connected and together.

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