Probate is the court procedures used to close a deceased person’s estate. Closing the estate requires gathering all asset and debt information, paying off all debts and taxes with assets, notifying beneficiaries of proceedings and distributing any remaining assets to valid heirs. The process often takes six months or longer, giving the probate trustee and estate executor ample time to locate assets and debts. There are instances where the estate may need to be reopened after probate is closed if new probate assets are discovered.
Review the information about the newly discovered asset and determine if it needs to be put through the probate process. Life insurance, annuities and retirement accounts name beneficiaries personally; probate doesn’t apply to these assets, and you can work directly with the asset administrator.
Go to the probate court where the estate was closed and request a “Petition to Reopen an Estate” from the clerk. This form may be called something different since each county probate office operates independently; explain to the clerk what you are doing to get the right form.
Complete the form with all pertinent information regarding the deceased, original estate petition number and new asset and beneficiary designations.
Sign the form as the executor of the estate and submit it to the clerk for court filing. Pay any filing fees for the petition.
Wait for reassignment of the estate petition to the same or a new trustee. Follow his directives on closing out the last assets of the estate.
Once an estate is closed, it cannot be sued. There is no need to reopen an estate for newly discovered debts.