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Probating a Will in Indiana

What Does it Mean to Probate a Will in Indiana

If you are appointed as an executor of an estate, it is important to understand the process of probating a will in Indiana. You will need to step into this role relatively quickly and be prepared for the different aspects required under the law. Furthermore, if you are serving as an executor and will be probating the will and managing the administration of the estate, it is important to understand the specifics of this particular role as well as the fiduciary responsibilities and duties you have to beneficiaries. In the state of Indiana, much like other locations, probate is the formal process for determining whether or not a will is valid.

How Are Wills Probated?

Once it has been determined that the Indiana will is valid, the process of probating the will involves distributing the person's assets after paying the deceased individual's debts. A will has to be probated in the county in which the now-deceased party was living at the time of his or her death, and the will could be probated in the Indiana County in which the deceased individual owned property if he or she was not a resident of the estate.

The first step for the executor and probating an Indiana will is filing the will with the probate court. This task falls to the responsibility of the individual who has the will at the time that the person who created the will passes away. The personal representative of the estate or the probate court could order an individual who holds the will to formally file it. This personal representative which also might be referred to as an executor is the person who is responsible for carrying out all of the individual wishes of the testator as outlined in the will.

The second stage of probating a will in Indiana involves petitioning the court for what is known as letters testamentary. These are formal papers provided by the court that give the personal representative the official authority to carry out actions that are necessary for distributing assets or paying the deceased person's debt. The probate court then must receive proof of the will's validity.

Whether or not the petition to probate a will has been filed, Indiana courts do not accept a will if it has not been proven to be the deceased person's will. If all of the witnesses to the will are dead, have left Indiana, or are incapacitated, the personal representative can prove the will by showing that the signature of the testator matches the handwriting of the person to whom the signature belongs. The will can also be proved by having at least one of the witnesses testify that he or she was present when the will was created.

Who Must Be Notified About the Estate?

After this stage, the next step of probating a will in Indiana involves finding the deceased individual's creditors. The personal representative must make reasonable efforts to notify the creditors of the deceased within one month after getting the letter's testamentary from the court. Presumptions under Indiana law state that reasonable diligence will be exercised on the part of the personal representative to find these creditors. Once creditors have been notified about the status of the estate, a written inventory must include all of the various assets associated with the estate and their fair market value. If the personal representative is confused about this process, an appraiser can be hired to identify the value of certain items in the estate.

At this point in time, debts that are owed by the estate must be paid and outstanding tax bills must be addressed. The final step includes distributing remaining assets in the estate to beneficiaries as outlined in the will, and providing a copy of the final accounting to the court once all assets have been distributed and all debts have been paid. If you have recently been appointed in the role of personal representative, schedule a consultation with an experienced Indiana lawyer today.       

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