Once the decedent's legal documents and other important papers have been sorted through, the next step in probating the estate is to meet with an estate attorney to officially open the probate estate with the probate court. Refer to the Step by Step Guide to Opening a Probate Estate for a detailed guide on how to open a probate estate.
Once the estate lawyer has received enough information to draft the court documents required to open the probate estate, the person named to serve as Personal Representative/Executor in the decedent's Last Will and the beneficiaries named in the Will, or, if there isn't a Last Will, then the decedent's heirs at law, will be required to review and sign the documents required to open the probate estate. While these documents will vary from state to state, or even from county to county within the same state, they will generally include the following:
- Petition for Probate Administration
- Oath and Acceptance of Personal Representative/Executor
- Appointment of Resident Agent
- Joinders, Waivers and Consents
- Petition to Waive Bond
- Order Admitting Will to Probate
- Order Appointing Personal Representative/Executor
- Order Waiving Bond
- Letters of Administration/Letters Testamentary
Once the probate estate has been opened with the probate court, the next step is to establish date of death values for all of the decedent's assets.