How to Find Out If an Estate Has Been Settled

By Anna Assad

Estate settlement occurs when the court approves the final report from the estate's appointed representative, usually an executor or administrator. The estate settlement process involves payment of the deceased's debts, final tax return fillings and the transfer and sale of assets with property and sale monies going to the deceased's heirs or will beneficiaries. Estate proceedings are a matter of public record, so if you need to know whether an estate was settled, you can find out by viewing the estate's court records. Finding out whether an estate is settled is useful in various situations, especially if you're a family member or will beneficiary who didn't receive your share, or a creditor who never received payment.

Step 1

Locate the probate or surrogate court that handled the estate proceedings. The court may be in the county where the deceased resided or where he owned real estate.

Step 2

Contact the court clerk of each court you locate. Inquire as to the procedure for reviewing estate files. Procedures vary by county. Some courts allow a person to mail in a written request for estate records, while others require an in-person visit. Follow the instructions of the clerk to view the estate records. You'll need to give her information about the deceased, usually the deceased's legal name and the date of death if you have it, so she can locate the estate paperwork.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

View the estate file. You need to find the final estate account. The executor or administrator of the estate must file a final account to settle the estate and receive a release from the court. You'll find a final account and release in the files of a settled estate. Write down the name and address of the estate's attorney, as shown on the court files if you don't see a final account or release. Write down the name and address of the executor or estate administrator if the estate did not use an attorney.

Step 4

Contact the estate's attorney or administrator if you want to inquire about the estate's settlement status. Identify your relationship to the deceased, if any. Give your reason for asking. The attorney or administrator may not respond to you if you don't state why you're interested in the estate.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How to File to Be an Administrator of Estate After a Death


Related articles

Kentucky Executor Checklist

In Kentucky, the executor is the person named in a will to manage the estate of a deceased person, known as the decedent. If there is no will or no executor is named, an administrator manages the estate. The executor's or administrator's duties include paying the estate's remaining debts and distributing its assets to the heirs and beneficiaries. An executor's duties begin with locating the will.

How to Decline Being a Will Executor After a Death

An executor oversees the estate of a deceased person and handles her final financial affairs. Acting as an executor involves a myriad of duties, including preparing a thorough inventory of assets, paying final debts and taxes, and transferring shares of the estate to the recipients listed in the will. The executor is granted authority through probate, the proceedings used to validate the will. However, you can file in court to be relieved of the obligations of an estate executor.

How to Contest the Handling of an Estate in North Carolina

Probate is often a difficult and contentious process. Emotions can run high, with grief at the forefront. Under the circumstances, it can be easy enough to come to the conclusion that the executor of your loved one’s estate is mishandling it. You have recourse if you’re correct: North Carolina law allows you to ask that the executor of the estate be removed from office.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Responsibilities of an Administrator Over an Estate in New York

When a New York resident dies "testate" (leaving a will), the Surrogate's Court will be asked to appoint the person ...

How to Find Out if a Person Died With an Estate

Almost everyone has an estate at the time of death: An estate is simply the property the person owned at the moment of ...

How to Locate a Will of a Deceased Person

You must find the will of a deceased person to start probate -- the legal proceedings used to settle a person's final ...

How to Locate a Last Will & Testament

People have various reasons for finding a Last Will and Testament. For example, you may want to know if you have been ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED