If you have lost a loved one, you may be in the position of having to administer their estate through probate. In general, Indiana probate involves only estates that are worth more than $50,000 and requires a number of steps:
- Filing the will with the court
- Petitioning for letters testamentary (permission to probate the will)
- Proving the will’s validity
- Creating an inventory of all property to be probated, along with each asset’s fair market value
- Identifying all the estate’s creditors and notifying them of the death
- Paying off all debts and taxes
- Retitling, as necessary, and distributing the remainder of the assets to the beneficiaries
- Creating and filing a final accounting with a petition to settle and allow
What types of assets go through probate?
Essentially, the assets that require probate are those owned solely by the deceased. For example, a home titled only in the decedent’s name would need to be retitled through the probate process.
Similarly, bank accounts that are not held jointly and have no official death beneficiary designated would generally need to go through probate. The same is true of investments, personal belongings and valuables, and vehicles held solely in the decedent’s name.
Some assets don’t go through probate at all
Assets held by entities such as trusts (as opposed to the deceased) do not go through probate. Also, many accounts with official beneficiaries don’t need to be probated. These include bank accounts with a “payable on death” or “transfer on death” document, insurance policies, retirement accounts and jointly owned real estate or bank accounts.
The three types of probate administration in Indiana
As we mentioned above, Indiana only requires probate of estates worth $50,000 or more. Smaller estates do not require administration. The family or personal representative can pay bills and transfer assets using an affidavit or written statement. A final affidavit of debts, property, and all heirs and beneficiaries is filed with the court. An attorney can help you with these requirements.
Unsupervised administration is the simplest type of probate administration. Estates qualify when they are solvent, have a qualified personal representative, and have a will requesting unsupervised administration, and all the heirs consent.
Supervised administration involves getting the court’s approval before any property is sold or distributed. A personal representative is appointed. This process is usually required when there is a dispute over the will or certain property, or if the estate is bankrupt (owes more than its value).
The probate process can be complex and time consuming, but an attorney can help. You can have a lawyer handle the probate entirely, help you handle individual steps, or advise you on the process overall.