“What is probate?” is a common question when dealing with the estate of a family member or close friend or their assets. When a person dies and leaves a will, the probate process establishes the validity of the will and confirms an executor or administrator to carry out the dictates of the will. During probate, the court monitors the actions of the executor or administrator and approves the final distribution of assets. If the person dies without a will, probate is still required, and Connecticut probate law dictates who will receive the probate estate when the probate process is finalized.
One of the first things people ask when beginning the probate process is, “How long will all this take?” Probate can be an intimidating legal process that involves attorneys, judges, and overwhelming paperwork, and it can take nine months to a year or more to fully resolve. During this time, survivors must wait to occupy, sell, or rent their relative's property, sometimes causing costly delays and fighting among family members.
The steps involved include collecting a decedent's assets, notifying creditors, paying liabilities, and distributing the remaining assets to heirs. Probate involves proving the validity of deceased person’s last will and testament, often in a court of law. The usual process looks like this:
- An individual files a petition with the probate court to admit the will to probate and appoint an executor (the person tasked with carrying out the terms of a will and handling estate affairs).
- Notice of the petition is given to all heirs and beneficiaries.
- The executor informs the estate's creditors and various government entities of probate proceedings.
- The executor takes inventory of all estate assets, such as bank accounts, investment accounts, property, vehicles, business interests or stocks.
- The executor settles the decedent's debts and taxes using money from the estate. This person may be permitted to sell estate assets to repay debts and taxes.
- The deceased individual's property transfers to beneficiaries.
Dealing with probate law can be daunting. The information presented here is only meant to offer a brief guide to the law in Connecticut. It is not and should not be construed as legal advice. Questions about your individual circumstances should be discussed with a licensed attorney. Through many years of mentoring, education, and practical experience, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Gryk and Frolich LLC have developed the skills, resources and tools needed to advise executors and beneficiaries of estates to confidently navigate through this process and meet all legal obligations.
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