Probate is started when someone – the named executor, next–of–kin, or the Public Administrator – files a petition to open a probate proceeding with the Superior Court.
The Court will set a hearing on the petition and determine who should be appointed to administer the estate. Letters of Administration are issued by the Court and constitute legal authority for the appointed Personal Representative or Administrator to take over all aspects of the decedent's estate.
The Personal Representative or Administrator will arrange for the funeral, if not already arranged, and must marshal (collect for safekeeping) and evaluate (value as of the decedent's date of death) all assets, debts and other interests of the decedent. This information is summarized in an Inventory & Appraisal of the estate, which is filed with the Court and copied to all interested persons. Notices are mailed to family/heirs, creditors and other interested parties, and a hearing may be conducted to resolve any questions or concerns about the assets and debts of the estate.
The Personal Representative or Administrator evaluates claims against the estate, pays taxes and expenses as needed, sells assets as needed, determines who is entitled to the remaining estate, if any, and concludes all matters affecting the estate. The Personal Representative or Administrator will prepare a final accounting of all actions taken to settle the estate, and file it with the Court. A copy of the final accounting is mailed to all interested persons.
The Court will hold a hearing on the handling of the estate and review the final accounting. Once approved, the Personal Representative or Administrator is discharged and the probate proceeding is concluded.