What Are the Final Steps Before Probate Can Be Closed?

by August Jackson J.D. ; Updated July 27, 2017

Probate is a process by which a court supervises the transfer of title to property from the estate of a decedent, or person who died, to the beneficiaries of that estate. During the probate process, a personal representative takes charge of the decedent’s estate. The personal representative has a duty to pay the debts owed by the estate, after these debts have been taken care of, to distribute property of the estate to the estate’s beneficiaries.

Duties of Personal Representative

The debts that the decedent owed before he died become the debts of the estate after the decedent dies. The personal representative must give notice to the debtor’s creditors so that the creditors can file claims against the estate. Within a certain time period, the estate’s creditors must present their claims in order to receive priority when distributing the assets of the estate. The personal representative can close the estate when: the time for filing creditor claims has expired; there is enough money in the estate to pay creditors and taxes; and the estate is in a condition where it can be closed.

Final Account

After the personal representative pays the debts of the estate and the taxes of the estate, he must file a final account with the probate court. The report should detail all the income that the estate has generated and all of the debts the personal representative has paid on behalf of the estate. The report should also account for any distributions the personal representative has made to the estate’s beneficiaries. If the decedent left a will, the personal representative should distribute the assets in accordance with the instructions in the will. If the decedent did not leave a will, the personal reprehensive should distribute the assets according to the laws of intestate succession.

Petition for Final Distribution

The personal representative must file a petition for final distribution. The petition should include three parts: an accounting, a report of administration and a petition. The report of administration should include a written summary of the actions the personal representative has taken in administering the estate, and the petition should ask the court to approve the accounting and the final distribution. The personal representative should obtain a hearing date for the petition and give notice of the hearing to all interested parties.

Final Distribution

The personal representative should then propose a judgment of final distribution. This judgment should be very detailed. It should include the names of the beneficiaries of the estate and the assets of the estate that should be transferred to each beneficiary. The court will sign the judgment of final distribution, rendering it a court order. This authorizes the personal representative to distribute the assets of the estate among the estate’s beneficiaries. After the personal representative has distributed the assets of the estate in accordance with the court order, the court will discharge the personal representative of his duties. These steps generally apply to the closing of probate. Each state has its own specific rules for closing probate.

About the Author

August Jackson is a contributor to various websites. She has taken courses in copywriting and has worked in corporate America as a proofreader. Jackson holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Juris Doctor with an emphasis in bankruptcy law.