Probate Property Idenficiation
The probate property in the testator's estate must be identified and collected for it to be administered by the executor and the probate courts. This includes determining whether or not the testator had a full, undivided interest in property. This is the only type of property that can be probated. Property that the testator only had a partial interest in, such as a house he took in joint tenancy with his wife -- this gives the wife a right to survivorship -- cannot be probated.
All beneficiaries listed in the will must be identified. The court will distribute property according to state laws if any of the beneficiaries predeceased the testator or died before the probate process has begun.
Wills normally have a named executor who is responsible for taking care of the estate during the probate process. One of the duties the executor has is to make sure all debts and taxes the estate owes are paid off. Probate property cannot be administered before this happens.
The executor must collect all money owed to the estate. That money will then become part of the probated property.
The executor must settle all claims against the estate. This includes determining whether a claim is valid and how to settle the dispute if it is not.
The family is given a chance to object to the will. Individual sections of the will may be questioned, or the validity of the entire will can be objected to. Such claims usually include that the testator signed the will under duress or that a particular beneficiary had an undue influence over the testator.
The property is finally disbursed after any pending matters have been resolved.