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What happens after a person dies?

If your loved one passes away, and you are told they have a will, you should know that this has to go through probate. Probate is a process that proves that the will is legal in court. Once a judge agrees that it is legal and a valid document, the estate can be administered.

If you are not the executor of the estate, you may not have to worry about probate. The executor is the person who is expected to take control in this situation and to take the will to court for approval. If you are the executor, that is your job. Going through probate will officially appoint you as the executor and give you the legal powers you need to administer the estate.

What happens throughout the probate process?

Throughout the probate process, several things happen. First, the will is authenticated. Then, the executor is appointed to represent the estate. If no executor was established, a personal representative may be appointed by the court.

The executor or personal representative has to post bond at this point. This is insurance that protects the estate by being able to reimburse it if the executor commits a grievous error while administering the estate.

The executor then goes on to locate the assets that belong to the estate, contact creditors and pay down debts and taxes. Once the debts and taxes are paid, the remaining estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries and heirs.

It's a long process, but it's one that you can get help with. Our site has more on getting to know the probate process and your responsibilities.

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