topic | opening probate

Step: formal or informal probate - upc states

Activity 1
Open Informal Probate

Obtain and complete required forms.

  • Forms are generally available online at state court websites or from the county court office.
  • A pre-printed packet of forms may be available from the county court for a small fee.
  • Minimal instructions are included. Expect minimal legal guidance. The assistance provided by court staffs will vary. Consult an estate attorney as needed.

Activity 2
File with the County Court

File the necessary paperwork, including the Will (if there is one), with the county court. A fee to open probate must be paid. This can typically be handled through the mail or in person.

Activity 3
Obtain Letters of Testamentary (If not already obtained)

It is possible to obtain the Letters of Testamentary at the time probate is opened (if it is opened in person), but expect to wait several hours. They may also be mailed. Upon receipt, the executor has full authority to administer the estate.

Upon receipt of the Letters of Testamentary, additional forms may be obtained to be completed at a later date. These are detailed in subsequent Topics.

  • Notification of Appointment as executor
  • Notice to Creditors by Publication
  • Notice to Creditors by Mail
  • Estate Inventory
  • Estate Accounting

Best Practices

Request additional copies of the Letters of Testamentary from the court. As the estate is administered, there may be numerous requests for original copies.

The estate will compensate the executor for their time spent administering the estate. State guidelines for this compensation vary. Include beneficiaries and other interested parties in discussions regarding compensation for the executor. This saves potential surprises and conflicts from arising later.

Consider the following question to continue:

Is there property owned in other states?

(if this Step is complete)
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