Locate the will and file it with the probate court in the county where the deceased lived at the time of his death. You have 10 days after the date of death to do this. If you fail to file the will within the required time and a beneficiary can prove that you delayed on purpose, you might be responsible for any financial damages the beneficiary suffered because of it. You might also be held in contempt of court.
Determine whether or not the testator’s estate requires probate and, if so, what kind of probate. If her estate is worth less than $50,000 minus any real estate she owned, and if the real estate will pass directly to a beneficiary because it is jointly titled with a surviving co-owner, it is a “small estate” and the deceased’s property can be transferred without probate. If the will is clear-cut and valid and appoints a qualified executor, it might qualify for informal probate with only minimal court involvement. A complicated estate where the will might be contested or contains ambiguous terms requires formal probate. Consult with an attorney if you have any questions as to what category the will falls into.
Prepare an affidavit, or notarized statement, indicating that you have possession of the deceased’s property if the matter qualifies as a “small estate.” You must attest in the statement that you will transfer the property according to the terms of the will. File the affidavit with the court clerk, distribute the property and close the estate.
Complete either an Application for Informal Probate of Will or a Petition for Formal Probate of Will if this is a larger estate that requires probate. If you file a Petition for Formal Probate, it must be either signed and dated in the presence of the court clerk, or notarized. The court then either swears in the will’s named beneficiary or appoints someone, and probate begins.