If no Last Will exists or it is invalid, then the process is called an intestate probate. The court will review requests by persons seeking to be appointed as the personal representative of the estate. The court will request that heirs of the estate confirm the request. If there are no challenges, then the court will appoint the person as the Administrator of the Estate. If there are multiple requests or challenges to an appointment, the process can be drawn out for weeks or even months. This can cause real problems for an estate, as there is no person who can take control to pay bills, taxes, maintain the property, stop recurring services, etc.
Whether intestate or testate, there are number of procedures that need to be followed. Beyond the necessary court filings, other requirements include:
- Sending notification letters creditors,
- Publishing announcements a local newspaper,
- Notifying heirs, Inventorying assets,
- Paying final decedent’s expenses,
- Filing final decedent’s taxes and estate taxes,
- Completing estate accounting,
- Filing final court documents,
- Making distributions to heirs, and
- Closing the estate
Unsupervised or Supervised Estate
Many probate estates are pretty straight-forward, without challenges, and not high value. In these situations, the court may find that, once the appropriate personal representative is appointed, he or she should have the freedom to administer the estate without constant court involvement. This is an unsupervised estate. The administer is still bound to fiduciary duties and responsibility to the heirs. In addition, the probate process must be followed. An unsupervised probate usually costs less to complete because there is less court and attorney involvement. The personal representative works independently to accomplish the necessary tasks. The heirs are protected from a personal representative who does not follow the necessary procedures. They can challenge an action or lack of action with the court. The court may find it appropriate to convert the probate into a supervised estate.
The primary difference with a supervised estate is the constant involvement of the court or magistrate.