How to Probate an Estate
(Mostly Without a Lawyer)

My grandmother was a wonderful woman.  She lived a good and full life and was loved dearly (and now missed greatly) by all who knew her well.  But, like it will for all of us, her time on earth eventually came to an end.  When the time came, she was very ready and died as she lived – well.


A couple years before her death, my grandmom appointed me as trustee of her living trust and executor of her estate.  As I go through the probate process, we'll learn together (if you choose to join me on the trip) about how to probate an estate and also the differences between that process and the process of settling a living trust.

I'm sure a big reason my grandmom appointed me was because, at the time, I was an attorney.  Grandmom was a very thrifty, self-sufficient person, and the last thing she wanted was to have money from her estate go to lawyers unrelated to the family.  So, she figured I could do the "lawyer" work and thus save the estate money.  I didn't actually have a lot of real-world estate planning experience, but I had taken lots of courses on the subject, and had some experience with it during my twenty year career in the JAG Corps.
   
As fate would have it, Grandmom passed away the very month (July 2013) I retired from the Army.  In the preceding months, she had increasingly had health problems, which became more and more difficult to deal with.  It was good I was retiring and on terminal leave at the time as much time was spent in the hospital, then dealing with funeral and burial issues and then her estate.  

I'm going to do sort of a diary, detailing many of the tasks I have to do as I take her estate through probate and settling her living trust.  I will endeavor to make each post as practical as I can, taking you step by step through the process I went through. 

For detailed information about probate; its costs; its advantages and disadvantages -- please visit probate court process.



Here's the list of topics:

  1. Duties of an Executor
  2. How to Obtain a Tax ID for an Estate
  3. How to Get a Federal Tax ID Number for a Trust
  4. Probate Court
  5. Probate Attorney Fees
  6. What is Subject to Probate?
  7. Is Probate Lengthy and Expensive?
  8. How to Avoid Probate?
  9. Probate Taxes
  10. Joint Ownership


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Do I have to open new accounts?  
Hi Mo, thanks for doing this. I'm named executor in my parents will -- so, one of these days, I'll be doing the stuff you are doing now. I'm looking …

How to Get a Federal Tax ID Number for a Trust? Not rated yet
The video below shows exactly how I obtained a tax ID for my grandmom's trust. You'll see it's very easy to do. After you watch the video, …

How to Get a Tax ID For An Estate Not rated yet
The video below explains and shows step by step how (and why) I obtained a tax ID for my grandmom's estate. After you watch the video above, …

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Marquette, Michigan
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