When settling the estate of a loved one, the estate administration involves specific steps and timeline to move through the probate process.
Personal Representative Appointment
The appointment of a personal representative of the decedent may be specified in the will.
Collect the Assets
Someone must collect the assets and take control of the decedent’s property. Net worth statements and tax records can help identify and organize the assets of an estate for an orderly estate settlement.
Inventory All Assets
A detailed list of the decedent’s property and assets at the time of death must be compiled. The fair market value (FMV) of each asset at the date of death and the debts debt associated with each asset. In Alabama, this inventory must be filed within two months of the appointment of the decedent’s personal representative.
The personal representative must also send a copy of the inventory to any interested person who requests it. A formal or an informal inventory is necessary to oversee and distribute the decedent’s assets.
Dispose of Creditor Claims
In Alabama, the personal representative is responsible for notifying the decedent’s creditors. The notice must in writing, delivered via first class mail. The notification advises the creditor of the details and time frame for pursuing payment of a claim. Known creditors are given personal notices as soon as possible, typically within six months from the date of the appointment of the personal representative.
For unknown creditors, notification is typically handled by publication in a local newspaper once a week for three successive weeks. If no newspaper is published in the county of the decedent’s residence, the notices are published in the newspaper nearest the county courthouse with jurisdiction.
All claims for payments must be filed within six months. Creditors file claims by submitting an affidavit to the Alabama probate court for filing as a lien against the estate. Failure to submit a claim does not prevent some creditors from exercising their rights.
Claims are paid from estate assets. The debts of the probate estate are grouped in preferential categories and paid in order, with lower-tier categories to be paid only when the higher-tier categories have been paid.
Distribute What’s Left to Beneficiaries
After all the creditor claims are paid and property of the estate has been liquidated, the funds left over are distributed to family members according to the will or probate court.
The Final Closing
Once the personal representative has taken all actions necessary for estate administration, the estate probate attorneys can proceed with closing the estate.