Maine offers two types of probate filings: informal and formal. You may file for informal probate if there is nothing in dispute such as the will's validity; informal probate doesn't involve a judge or hearings before the probate court. Formal probate is reserved for disputed cases and involves a judge and hearings. In most cases, informal probate will suffice. If for some reason, formal probate becomes necessary, it can commence after informal probate.
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Locate the appropriate Probate Court. In Maine, a will must be admitted to the Probate Court in the county where the testator, or will maker, last lived.
Obtain the death certificate. You may obtain the death certificate from the Office of Vital Records or from the town in which the testator died. The Office of Vital Records provides certified copies.
Obtain an application for informal probate from the Probate Court. The form is both an application for informal probate and an application for appointment as personal representative. If you were named as personal representative in the will, and you accept, you may indicate that you wish to be appointed as personal representative on the application.
Gather information pertaining to the beneficiaries named in the will. The application for informal probate asks for the names and addresses of beneficiaries such as the surviving spouse, children and other heirs.
File the application for informal probate with the Register of the Probate Court, along with the original will and death certificate. The Register will notify any beneficiaries or heirs you've listed on the application once it is filed.
Pay the filing fees. Filing fees vary; speak to the Register of the Probate Court to determine the correct amount.
- Original will
- Death certificate
- Application for informal probate
- Filing fees
Tips & Warnings
If you need to file a petition for formal probate, the petition must be submitted to the Probate Court, along with the original will.
The petition for formal probate requires the same information as the application for informal probate. In other words, the names and addresses of beneficiaries are required.
If you are applying to open probate and for appointment as personal representative, you may need to submit additional paperwork before the Register officially admits the will. For example, you may need to file an acceptance of appointment and a certificate of value, which gives an approximation of the value of the testator's estate.
If you don't have the original death certificate, ask the Register of the Probate Court whether a certified copy is acceptable.
References & Resources
- Maine State Bar: Probate in Maine
- Cumberland County, Maine: Cumberland County Probate Court
- Perkins Thompson, Attorneys & Counselors at Law: Eight Steps for a Personal Representative to Probate a Will and Settle an Estate in Maine
- Levey & Wagley, PA: How to Probate an Estate in Maine
- Maine.gov: Vital Records
- MaineProbate.net: Application for Probate of Will
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